Immune System ChangesVasectomy is known to provoke immune system changes. Because sperm continue to be produced after vasectomy but disposed of in the body, the patient’s immune system may recognise them as foreign proteins and produce anti–sperm antibodies. Up to two–thirds of vasectomised men develop antibodies that get attach to the sperm and interfere with the sperm's motility (ability to move).
Infections in the genital tract, such as orchitis or sexually transmitted diseases, increase the risk for anti–sperm antibodies. Experts are concerned that changes in the immune system might cause damage in other parts of the body, including hardening of the arteries, blood clotting, kidney disease, and arthritis. Two major studies of large groups of men, however found no significant risk to a man’s overall health. Most medical experts, including special panels convened by the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization, have concluded that vasectomy is a safe procedure.
Kidney StonesStudies are indicating that men younger than their mid-forties who have vasectomies have twice the risk for kidney stones as their peers who have not had vasectomies. The increased risk persists for up to 14 years after the operation. Kidney stones are not life threatening but they can be extremely painful, and just to be on the safe side, men who have had vasectomies should drink plenty of fluids to help prevent them.
OsteoporosisThere has been some concern that vasectomies increase the risk for osteoporosis in men. One study, however, found no higher incidence of bone loss in vasectomised men.
Heart DiseaseAnimal research has suggested that heart disease accelerates after vasectomy, but one study on men who had vasectomies found no significant increase in risk for angina even over the long term.
Psychological Reactions and Long–Term Dissatisfaction. Most men who have vasectomies feel relieved that the worry about pregnancy is over, and most couples respond well to their new–found contraceptive freedom. About 30% of couples report that they have sex more often following vasectomy, enjoy it more, consider their marriages stronger, feel healthier and more relaxed, and have no regrets about the operation. Younger and older couples, with or without children, were all equally likely to have favorable reactions to vasectomies.
Some men go through a brief period of self–consciousness, wondering whether others notice some difference in their masculinity. About half of vasectomy patients keep their operations a secret. They may believe that the operation is tainted by the stigma of emasculation and that knowledge of it would degrade them in the eyes of their friends and family. For most men, this tentativeness passes quickly. In a few men, however, problems of poor self–image persist and require counseling. Some men may experience depressed and angry emotions similar to mourning over the loss of their reproductive ability. These negative feelings usually resolve over time as the patient moves on to the next stage of his life. A small percentage of couples experience serious difficulties with the adjustment. Their emotional distress most often manifests itself in sexual dysfunction, such as impotence, premature ejaculation, or painful intercourse. In such cases, however, the vasectomy is probably the catalyst but not the cause of such extreme reactions. Studies have indicated that men who experienced impotence after vasectomy were more likely to have female partners who were unable to accept the operation.