I had a vasectomy in September 2010 after a casual warning from my urologist that 1 out of 150 guys will encounter some form of chronic ball aching afterward. I felt like I was going to be the guy with no trouble since my father had a vasectomy with no problems. I figured that one inherits their genes for the male parts of the body from the father’s side and furthermore certainly not so unlucky as to be the 1 out of 150. I had about 4-6 weeks of mild discomfort after the vasectomy, but then no pain, everything was great. I was running 5 miles a day and having all kinds of carefree sex with my wife. Everything was exactly how the procedure was advertised.
Out of the blue at ten months after the vasectomy, I started to get a pinching pain with sex at my right and left vasectomy site, and then later, a dull “blue balls” testicular ache started. It began distracting my thoughts all day and keeping me awake all night. It slowly began to worsen from there. I had to stop running. I was often in tears with pain. I managed to keep upbeat, stay employed, and active in my children’s lives, but I was a mess inside. I could not imagine living with this pain for the long term. I required sedatives at night and narcotics during the day.
I found an experienced reversal surgeon at a regional tertiary care center and scheduled a reversal after enduring four months of this pain. At the time, I was 14 months post vasectomy. He told me that post-vasectomy pain improves on its own for most men over a period of several years, but a vasectomy reversal is a “smart” option if you can not live with the pain and can afford to have it done. The week after my reversal, I realized that the dull “kicked in the groin” feeling was completely gone! In its place, I had a stinging, aching pain at the reversal site, and the swelling and firmness in my scrotum were very impressive, but overall this was such an improvement that I took it all with a smile on my face. I took off five days from work for the recovery at home. The surgical site pain and swelling improved slowly. I had a return of live sperm in my semen when it was checked seven weeks after reversal. After a few months, everything was back to normal and has been since. I am back to running and weight training. I use condoms now.
In hindsight, I certainly have regrets for having a vasectomy, but I believe that logic would have led me to a vasectomy no matter how long I considered options for birth control. It is just the best form of birth control out there if you don’t get the pain. But if you get unlucky, then it can be really challenging. There are options to address the pain. Supposedly in most people, the pain improves over the years with no intervention. However, this involves living with chronic pain of varying degrees. Others choose corrective surgeries. My insurance company did help cover some of the costs of the vasovasostomy, but I know that this is not always the case. I feel lucky to be through with that pain and back to the active life I had before my vasectomy.
I suppose one could argue that an elective procedure that leaves some people with chronic pain should never be offered by the medical community, given the physician’s duty to “first do no harm.” However, the incidence of post-vasectomy pain syndrome is low enough for the vast majority of men to experience the procedure as one of the best decisions of their life. It is the experience of these men that keep the procedure popular.
If you choose to get a vasectomy and then develop persistent pain, my advice would be to get a reversal as soon as three to four months after you begin to experience constant scrotal pain. Don’t wait for the pain to become chronic.
Submitted by Alan
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