Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/03/2021
A vasectomy is a highly effective method of contraception for men, offering one of the lowest failure rates of any method of birth control.
After having a vasectomy, you’ll be able to have sex without any concerns about getting your partner pregnant.
While a variety of factors may cause erectile dysfunction (ED), undergoing a vasectomy isn’t one of them. If you can get an erection without any issues before you have a vasectomy, you shouldn’t have any problems getting and staying hard after.
Below, we’ve explained how a vasectomy works, as well as why it’s unlikely to cause erectile dysfunction. We’ve also talked about other factors that may cause ED, as well as the proven, science-backed treatment options that are available if you have erectile dysfunction.
A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure in which the vas deferens — the internal tubes that transport sperm from your testicles to your ejaculatory ducts — are cut.
After a vasectomy, you’ll still reach orgasm and ejaculate as normal. However, the semen you ejaculate during sex or masturbation won’t contain any sperm, protecting you and your partner from the risk of pregnancy.
Vasectomy is a common procedure. According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 500,000 men choose to undergo vasectomy surgery every year in the United States.
Undergoing a vasectomy is typically a quick process. While there’s a recovery period after the surgery, you’ll normally be able to go back to having sex as normal within a week or two of the procedure.
While you may experience certain issues during the recovery period after a vasectomy, such as pain and discomfort, erectile dysfunction isn’t a known side effect of a vasectomy.
Several different methods are used for vasectomy surgery. The first involves making one or two small cuts into the upper areas of your scrotum, through which a surgeon will either tie off or cut the vas deferens to prevent sperm from traveling into your urethra.
The second, known as a no-scalpel vasectomy (NSV), involves completing the same procedure without making a surgical incision. This type of surgery is performed through a small hole that’s made in your scrotum with a hemostat, a type of locking forceps.
Both of these methods are effective at stopping sperm from traveling into your ejaculatory ducts and exiting your penis when you ejaculate.
However, they don’t have any known effect on the biological processes that cause you to get or maintain an erection when you’re sexually aroused.
Erections depend on several different factors. The first is sexual arousal. When you’re aroused, your brain sends signals to the nerves in and around your penis. These cause the soft tissue in your penis to relax.
The second is blood flow. Erections are all about strong blood flow, particularly the flow of blood into the erectile tissue of your penis. As blood flows to fill your corpora cavernosa (the tissue of your penis), the surrounding membrane contracts, trapping the blood inside.
Neither of these factors are affected by a vasectomy. The first is largely psychological, with your mood and level of attraction to your partner both playing a part in the arousal process.
The second is largely physical, with factors such as your cardiovascular health, body mass and overall well-being affecting how easily blood can flow to your penis.
Research has found that men who get vasectomy surgery rarely report erectile dysfunction as a side effect.
In fact, a 2005 study from Brazil found that vasectomy surgery has a positive impact on sexual function in men, with no increased risk of ED following the procedure.
Although there’s no link between vasectomy and ED, several different factors may cause you to experience difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, from diseases to medications, behaviors and psychological factors.
Diseases and physical health conditions that may lead to erectile dysfunction include:
Cardiovascular health issues, such as atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), high blood pressure or heart and blood vessel disease
Type 2 diabetes
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Chronic kidney disease
Injuries to the penis, prostate, pelvis, spinal cord or bladder
Injury caused by medical procedures, such as prostate surgery or surgery to treat bladder cancer
Medications that may lead to erectile dysfunction include:
Blood pressure medications
Behavioral factors and habits that may lead to erectile dysfunction include:
Illicit drug use
Being overweight or obese
Lack of physical activity
Psychological factors that may lead to erectile dysfunction include:
Sexual performance anxiety
Feelings of guilt about sex
If you’ve recently had a vasectomy and noticed that you find it more difficult to get and maintain an erection, one or several of these factors could be responsible. We’ve talked more about how ED often develops in our full guide to the most common causes of erectile dysfunction.
Several medications are available to treat erectile dysfunction. If you’re prone to ED, you may benefit from one of the following medications:
Sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®)
These medications are referred to as PDE5 inhibitors. They work by increasing the flow of blood to certain types of tissue in your body, including the soft, spongy tissue of your penis that allows you to get an erection when you’re aroused.
We offer several FDA-approved ED medications online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider.
Erectile dysfunction is a common issue, with about 30 million men in the United States affected to some degree.
Currently, there’s no scientific research showing that getting a vasectomy will increase your risk of developing ED. Unlike other surgeries that may cause ED, a vasectomy has no effect on your prostate or the nerves in your pelvic area.
As such, if you’re considering a vasectomy as a form of birth control, you shouldn’t feel worried about experiencing any erection issues after your surgery.
If you’re prone to ED, medication can help. We’ve talked more about how ED medications work, their effects, potential side effects and how you can use them in our full guide to ED medications and treatments.
Insider tips, early access and more.