Treating Post-Vasectomy Pain

Vasectomy is a safe, common office procedure that many people undergo as a form of permanent, non-drug birth control. Complications are few and rare. A vasectomy usually takes less than half an hour to complete and is often done under just local anesthetic.

However, in some instances, a person can experience debilitating pain following the procedure. Post-vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS) is a recognized condition that affects roughly one in every 1,000 people who undergo a vasectomy.

A man taking his medication
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PVPS can happen immediately following the procedure or take months or even years to develop. There is no way to predict who will get it or how severe the pain may be. Treating the condition can also be difficult as there are very few urologists who specialize in PVPS.

Causes of PVPS

When a person undergoes a vasectomy, their sperm production does not change. The build-up of sperm can increase pressure in the vas deferens (the duct that conveys sperm from the testicles to the urethra) and epididymis (the gland where sperm are stored).

It is this obstruction that can cause pain, sometimes severe, in vasectomized people whenever they ejaculate.

In addition, there are bunches of nerves that run alongside the vas deferens. The blockage of these ducts can cause the nerves to be trapped in fibrous tissue, resulting in continuous pain that only worsens with any activity which agitates the scrotum. So debilitating is the condition that running or any serious athletic activity becomes almost impossible to perform.

If left untreated, PVPS can lead to an acute condition called testicular torsion in which the spermatic cord that brings blood to the scrotum twists and cuts off the blood supply.

Non-Surgical Treatment of PVPS

Treatment for PVPS can include prescription and non-prescription medication, physical therapy, and if all else fails, surgery. Treatment often begins based on the symptoms.

For example, a vasectomized person who has epididymitis (the painful inflammation of the epididymis) will often be prescribed antibiotics in the event the cause is bacterial. If the pain goes away, we know for a fact that it wasn't PVPS. Other treatments would then be explored to deal with PVPS-related symptoms.

Among them:

  • Oral anti-inflammatories such as ketorolac or ibuprofen can often improve pain and alleviate inflammation.
  • A spermatic cord anesthetic block (SCAB) is a technique involving the combination of numbing medicine and a steroid anti-inflammatory to relieve post-vasectomy discomfort.

Physical therapy is another, non-surgical approach to PVPS. Some people develop significant pelvic pain after vasectomy. Their pelvic muscles will often tighten up in response to the abnormal testicular pain they are experiencing.

There are a number of pelvic floor exercises a physical therapist can teach to help people relax those muscles and take the stress off the scrotum and testicles.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is always considered a last resort. There are essentially three types of surgery used to treat PVPS:

Vasectomy Reversal

Vasectomy reversal is the most straightforward of the three. people who have obstructive pain tend to do very well after reversal with most becoming pain-free. The problem with reversal is that it cancels out the benefits of a vasectomy and, if done well, can lead the person to be fertile again. Additionally, vasectomy reversal is not covered by most insurance.


Epididymectomy is the surgical removal of the epididymis in hopes of alleviating the pain. This procedure permanently prevents the person from fathering a child and deletes reversal as an option if they ever change their mind.

The recovery time is much longer than a reversal, often taking three to six weeks to get back to normal. There is also a higher risk of injuring the blood supply to the testis.

Microscopic Spermatic Cord Denevation

Microscopic spermatic cord denervation is a procedure that is becoming popular as more urologists learn to perform it. It essentially involves cutting all of the nerves into the scrotum to decrease the pain caused by a vasectomy. The procedure preserves sterility, has quicker recovery time than an epididymectomy, and is covered by many insurance policies.

A Word From Verywell

Work with your specialist to figure out which surgical or non-surgical option is most appropriate to the pain and discomfort you’re feeling. It’s important to remember that there is always more than one option. Seek a second opinion, if needed.

PVPS is a rare condition and should never dissuade a couple from exploring vasectomy as a birth control method. If you or your partner is suffering from PVPS, don't give up. Find a specialist urologist in your area who can help you.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sinha V, Ramasamy R. Post-vasectomy pain syndrome: diagnosis, management and treatment options. Transl Androl Urol. 2017;6(Suppl 1):S44-S47. doi:10.21037/tau.2017.05.33

  2. Tandon S, Sabanegh E. Chronic pain after vasectomy: a diagnostic and treatment dilemma. BJU Int. 2008;102(2):166-9. doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2008.07602.x

  3. Tan WP, Levine LA. An overview of the management of post-vasectomy pain syndrome. Asian J Androl. 2016;18(3):332-7. doi:10.4103/1008-682X.175090

Additional Reading

By Jesse Mills, MD
Jesse Mills, MD, is a board-certified urologist trained in male reproductive medicine, and an associate clinical professor of urology at UCLA.