Erectile Dysfunction After Vasectomy

A vasectomy is currently the most effective method of male contraception. The American Urological Association (AUA) estimates that 175,000 to 500,000 men in the US have a vasectomy each year.¹

This procedure is usually carried out in a doctor’s office. It prevents sperm from mixing with seminal fluid and traveling from the testes to the urethra, preventing pregnancy.

The risk of complications is low, but some men experience erectile dysfunction (ED) after a vasectomy. Research shows that some men blame their vasectomy for their difficulty getting an erection. However, the procedure itself cannot cause erectile dysfunction

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What is a vasectomy?

Sperm is carried through the vas deferens (a tube in the male reproductive system that transports sperm) and mixes with seminal fluid to become semen. This is then ejaculated.

During the vasectomy procedure, your doctor will tie the vas deferens so sperm doesn’t combine with seminal fluid.

An ejaculation after a vasectomy doesn’t contain sperm. Without sperm, pregnancy can’t occur.

It’s important to remember that a vasectomy doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Furthermore, you can still have sperm in your semen for up to three months after the procedure. You must use another form of contraception (such as a condom) until your doctor gives you the all-clear.

What causes erectile dysfunction after a vasectomy?

Erection and climax involve nerve stimulation, increased blood flow to the penis, muscle contractions, and mental stimulation. This process remains unaffected after vasectomy. The procedure does not affect the nerves involved in erectile function and ejaculation.

ED after a vasectomy is extremely uncommon. According to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, some men actually report better sex lives after the procedure.⁴

A 2014 study confirms this finding by explaining that intercourse can be more enjoyable after a vasectomy. While the best improvement of sexual function was noted in females, 93% of males said they would recommend and get a vasectomy again.³

Other causes of ED include the following:⁵

Diseases and conditions

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Kidney disease

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

Health-related behaviors

  • Smoking 

  • Drinking too much alcohol

  • Use of illicit drugs

  • Lack of exercise

  • Obesity 

Psychological or emotional issues

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Low self-esteem

  • Stress


  • Antidepressants

  • Chemotherapy medications

  • Antihistamines

  • Diuretics

If you have any of these conditions or conduct any of these behaviors, mention them to your doctor. They could explain why you have developed erectile dysfunction after your vasectomy and could lead to a diagnosis and treatment.

Some people develop complications after a vasectomy, such as chronic testicular pain. Pain may be linked to sexual dysfunction, so it’s highly recommended to check in with your doctor if pain occurs after a vasectomy.⁷ ⁸

Vasectomy reversal

You might consider vasectomy reversal if circumstances have changed and you want to be fertile again. This procedure involves reconnecting the tubes that transport sperm so that it can enter the semen.

Research estimates that 6–10% of men who had a vasectomy look into undergoing a reversal. You can get a reversal decades after your vasectomy, but the longer the gap, the less likely the procedure is to be successful.⁶

On average, reversal is around 85–90% successful in returning sperm to the semen. However, only around 60% of couples will achieve a successful pregnancy after the procedure.⁹

A vasectomy reversal may help with the ED you experience after your vasectomy if it is related to anxiety and fear around no longer being able to have children.¹⁰

Are there any risks associated with vasectomies and vasectomy reversal?

Both procedures have risks. These include bleeding in the scrotum, wound infection, and chronic pain. It is rare for a vasectomy or vasectomy reversal procedure to cause serious complications.

Research suggests ED and vasectomies are not linked. Some men even report improved erectile function after surgery.¹¹

However, reports have also shown that men are more likely to develop anxiety and depression symptoms after a vasectomy.¹¹

There is a strong link between anxiety and ED, so this is something to keep in mind if you’re planning a vasectomy. If you are worried about developing anxiety or depression after your procedure, discuss this with a doctor or specialist.¹²

How can I prevent ED from occurring after my vasectomy?

According to a 2014 study, people are more likely to experience psychological issues after a vasectomy, including stress and low self-esteem, if they don’t receive appropriate counseling or information before the procedure.¹³

People with pre-existing psychological issues and/or marital discord also have a higher risk of acquiring psychological complications.

These procedures are expensive and mentally demanding. You need to be 100% sure you want to get a vasectomy before undergoing the procedure.

If ED develops, it’s important to seek medical help so you can rule out other causes. Your doctor can also recommend appropriate treatment plans.

When to visit your doctor

Speak to your doctor if you’re considering having a vasectomy. They can discuss the benefits and risks with you and confirm if your health history makes you more susceptible to complications, such as psychological issues leading to ED.

After your vasectomy, immediately call your doctor if you have signs of infection. These include bleeding or intensifying pain.

Immediate problems to look out for after a vasectomy include the following:

  • Bleeding in the scrotum, semen, or wound

  • Unbearable pain

  • Fever

  • Infection (pus) around the wound

  • Swelling in the scrotum (some mild swelling is normal immediately after a vasectomy)

Other complications can include post-vasectomy pain, pain on ejaculation (due to fluid buildup in the testicle), and pregnancy due to a failed vasectomy.¹⁴

You will need to visit your doctor three months after your procedure to test whether there’s any sperm in your semen.

The lowdown

A vasectomy is an effective male contraception option that allows couples to have sex without a pregnancy occurring.

It’s important to consider the risks and benefits to determine whether a vasectomy is a right step for you. The procedure costs up to $1,000 in the US, depending on whether your health insurance covers it.

Some people experience erectile dysfunction after undergoing a vasectomy, but there is no link between the procedure and ED.

ED has many possible causes, including psychological issues, like anxiety or depression; health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure; and lifestyle factors, like smoking and drug use.

Speak to your doctor if you had a vasectomy and you are now experiencing ED.

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