Some men may wonder if a vasectomy will reduce their sex drive. A vasectomy is, after all, a delicate operation involving a man’s reproductive system, so it’s only natural to have questions about potential effects the procedure might have on sexual desire and performance.
Fortunately, there is no credible evidence indicating that a vasectomy will have a long term effect on a man’s libido. In fact, many men report an increase in sex drive and sexual satisfaction since they no longer have to worry about an unintended pregnancy.1Mohamad A-A, Shamloul R, Ramsauer J, et al. The effect of vasectomy on the sexual life of couples. J Sex Med. 2014;11(9):2239-2242. doi:10.1111/jsm.12567
Still, one doesn’t have to look far to find anecdotal reports of men who claim they experienced sexual issues at some point after their vasectomy. For those considering the operation, these stories can be difficult to ignore. This article aims to address some of the concerns men have about the possibility of their sex life being affected by vasectomy.
What changes after a vasectomy?
The only physical change a man experiences after a vasectomy is that sperm are no longer able to enter the ejaculate. This results in a 2%-5% reduction in the volume of ejaculate2Semen. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/semen. Published April 11, 2015., which is not enough for a man or his partner to notice.
Testosterone production, which takes place primarily in the testicles, remains unaffected after vasectomy.3Barone MA, Pollack AE. Long-Term Risks of Vasectomy. GLOWM. Published online 2009. doi:10.3843/glowm.10409 Testosterone is one of the primary drivers of a man’s libido, and as long as a man’s levels remain the same sex drive will be largely unchanged.Suggested reading
The false connection between vasectomy and loss of sex drive
For men experiencing issues with their sex drive after a vasectomy, being told the procedure didn’t play a role is unsatisfying. But men must remember that having a vasectomy does not prevent other common medical and sexual problems from appearing later in life.
Hundreds of thousands of men have vasectomies every year4Sharlip ID, Belker AM, Honig S, et al. Vasectomy: AUA Guideline. Journal of Urology. Published online December 2012:2482-2491. doi:10.1016/j.juro.2012.09.080, and many of them are at an age when they are becoming increasingly more likely to have problems with their urinary tract, reproductive system, and prostate.
It’s a statistical certainty that some of the men who have a vasectomy will develop a separate health problem later on in their life. This doesn’t mean that the two are related.
Here are some examples of a few common health issues men experience that are often blamed on vasectomy.
As men grow older, their testosterone naturally begins to decrease. This process can start as young as age 30, and once it begins the man’s testosterone levels will drop by about 1.6% a year.5Stanworth R, Jones T. Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice. Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3(1):25-44. doi:10.2147/cia.s190 Most men who have vasectomies are in their mid-thirties or older, so this testosterone reduction process has already begun.
Decreased testosterone levels can result in low sex drive, fewer erections, depression, and changes in body weight. It’s understandable for a man who’s having one of these problems to blame it on a recent vasectomy, but it’s important to look at the bigger picture and ask if naturally reduced testosterone levels may be to blame.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is another very common problem among older men. Tens of millions of American men have this condition and the risk of ED of increases with age.6Johannes C, Araujo A, Feldman H, Derby C, Kleinman K, McKinlay J. Incidence of erectile dysfunction in men 40 to 69 years old: longitudinal results from the Massachusetts male aging study. J Urol. 2000;163(2):460-463. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10647654
In addition to age, the likelihood of ED is also higher in men who are overweight, have high cholesterol, low testosterone, high blood pressure, or diabetes. These are all relatively common conditions that a man is more likely to develop as he ages.
Vasectomy has never been shown to have a direct association with erectile dysfunction.
Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) is another common medical condition occurring in men in a linear correlation with increasing age. The most common symptoms are a decreased force of stream, incomplete emptying of the bladder, hesitancy initiating a stream, frequent urination and waking at night to urinate.7Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published March 2, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/benign-prostatic-hyperplasia/symptoms-causes/syc-20370087
This condition is easily treated with medications and some men ultimately require surgery to alleviate these BPH symptoms.
Vasectomy has never been shown to cause the prostate to enlarge or alter a man’s urinary symptoms.
Psychological factors affecting sexual performance
Mental and emotional factors can severely affect a man’s sex drive and performance. Conditions such as stress, grief, or general depression all have the ability to reduce libido and diminish a man’s sexual enjoyment.8Psychological Causes of Poor Sexual Performance. GAINSWave. Published June 15, 2018. https://gainswave.com/blog/psychological-causes-poor-sexual-performance/ If one or more of these issues coincides with a man’s vasectomy, the operation may be faulted for sexual problems that are actually psychosomatic.
Similarly, a small percentage of men regret having a vasectomy or experience a feeling of loss or sadness after the operation. These feelings can lead to difficulties with sexual performance and decrease libido.
This isn’t to say that every man’s post-vasectomy sexual problems are “all in his head,” but it’s important that men consider the possibility that the source of their problems is unrelated to their vasectomy.
Problematic vasectomies and sex drive
While men who have a successful, normal vasectomy should not have any sexual issues, a problematic vasectomy can certainly affect a man’s sex drive. Vasectomy-related complications such as post-vasectomy pain syndrome9Nangia AK, Myles JL, Thomas AJ JR. Vasectomy reversal for the post-vasectomy pain syndrome: a clinical and histological evaluation. J Urol. 2000;164(6):1939-1942. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11061886/ or an improperly performed procedure can adversely impact a man’s libido and sexual functions.Suggested reading
These types of issues are uncommon and are not part of the normal process, but it’s important for men to understand that, like any surgery, a vasectomy carries a certain amount of risk.
If you’ve recently had a vasectomy and are experiencing problems with your sex life, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. While it’s unlikely the vasectomy is the root of your sexual troubles, they could be an indication of a complication stemming from your operation.
References and further readingVasectomy-Information.com has a strict sourcing policy. We rely on evidence-based medicine, peer-reviewed studies, reputable clinical journals, and medical associations. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date by reading our editorial policy.
- Mohamad A-A, Shamloul R, Ramsauer J, et al. The effect of vasectomy on the sexual life of couples. J Sex Med. 2014;11(9):2239-2242. doi:10.1111/jsm.12567
- Semen. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/semen. Published April 11, 2015.
- Barone MA, Pollack AE. Long-Term Risks of Vasectomy. GLOWM. Published online 2009. doi:10.3843/glowm.10409
- Sharlip ID, Belker AM, Honig S, et al. Vasectomy: AUA Guideline. Journal of Urology. Published online December 2012:2482-2491. doi:10.1016/j.juro.2012.09.080
- Stanworth R, Jones T. Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice. Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3(1):25-44. doi:10.2147/cia.s190
- Johannes C, Araujo A, Feldman H, Derby C, Kleinman K, McKinlay J. Incidence of erectile dysfunction in men 40 to 69 years old: longitudinal results from the Massachusetts male aging study. J Urol. 2000;163(2):460-463. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10647654
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published March 2, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/benign-prostatic-hyperplasia/symptoms-causes/syc-20370087
- Psychological Causes of Poor Sexual Performance. GAINSWave. Published June 15, 2018. https://gainswave.com/blog/psychological-causes-poor-sexual-performance/
- Nangia AK, Myles JL, Thomas AJ JR. Vasectomy reversal for the post-vasectomy pain syndrome: a clinical and histological evaluation. J Urol. 2000;164(6):1939-1942. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11061886/