Field of Science

TMI Friday: A Vexacious Consequence of a Vasectomy

It was an emergency. The patient was 51 years of age, running a high fever, and pain and swelling in a particularly sensitive area, in which an operation had been performed a week previous. Gentlemen of delicate dispositions may wish to avoid reading further, for that operation was a vasectomy.
The purpose of a vasectomy is contraception, to make sure that a man cannot impregnate a woman with his sperm. A vasectomy works through preventing sperm from escaping from your testicles, where they are manufactured. It does this by cutting the vas deferens, the tube through which the sperm travel out of the testicles. This procedure has become relatively advanced in recent years.
The gentleman in question had a "No scalpel" incision vasectomy. This has a number of benefits , not least that it doesn't involve a scalpel being wielded near to a "gentleman's dangling region". It its quicker, leaves a tiny operation scar, which means less bleeding pain and infection, and more importantly, a quicker return to sexual activity. 
The 51 year old gentleman however had clearly acquired some form of infection after the operation. Infection after a vasectomy is generally uncommon. They then found the identity of the bacterium causing this infection. It was Streptococcus pyogenes, the bacterium that commonly causes sore throats. Long time readers of this blog probably have some idea of where this is going...
His wife had been looking after their children who were suffering from sore throats. And unbeknownst to anyone, the Streptococcus pyogenes had been passed to her, and was settling on her tonsils. The night before the fateful emergency visit, she and her husband had an intimate moment. During this process, the bacteria on the wife's tonsils somehow ended up on the husbands genitals. The paper describing this clinical case describes the infectious process that followed:

It is reasonable to assume that the vasectomy incision was only superÔ¨Ācially healed, and therefore, violated and impregnated during the “trauma” of oral intercourse.
This is one of those cases where a series of events coincide, which results in a bizarre disease complication.
That was my TMI Friday, I hope you endured it as well as I did.

Ramaswamy K. &; Kaminetsky J. (2011). Unique Infective Complication after Routine Vasectomy: A Case Report, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8 (9) 2655-2658. DOI:

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