August 7, 2019
Gentlemen, Don’t Fall For These 3 Vasectomy Myths
No, it shouldn’t kill your libido, cause you black-out pain, or increase your cancer risk.
Though it’s an often taboo topic among many men, when “vasectomy” does arise in conversation, it can come with the story-telling power of an epic legend. From a medical perspective, fewer topics make men fear-sweat than those having to do with their genitals. So, the subject of vasectomy – the surgery that separates and seals two parts of the vas deferens to sterilize a man as a form of permanent birth control – can be accompanied by some misconceptions. With decades of experience as a urologist with training in the performance of these standard procedures, I can say the myths I’ve heard are false. But some are more frequently shared than others, so pulling them into the light and exposing them is a great way to debunk fallacies, so here we go.
A Vasectomy is Extremely Painful
It shouldn’t be for the majority of men. During the procedure itself, a man may feel slight pressure or tugging, but should not experience pain as the area should be sufficiently numbed beforehand. After a vasectomy, most men feel a bit of soreness or achiness, but it is usually minor and resolves after a few days of ice and rest. It is important to remember, however, that the experience of pain is a personal one. What is “extremely painful” to one person may be nothing more than a nuisance to another. A condition called post-vasectomy pain syndrome that can affect a tiny minority of men after a vasectomy. In only 1-2% of cases, this condition can cause pain in the testicles that lasts longer than three months following the vasectomy procedure. I acknowledge the situation because it can happen, though it is uncommon.
Having a Vasectomy Will Kill Your Sex Drive
This is a myth that is more lore than anything else. No reliable clinical studies state that a vasectomy causes a decline in libido or masculinity. In short, the hormone primarily responsible for a man’s sexual drive is called testosterone. Testosterone production is not affected by a vasectomy through the redirection of sperm, and the testicles are not removed during the procedure. Therefore, testosterone levels are unchanged after a vasectomy. Perhaps this myth arises from the fact that a vasectomy does prevent a man from fathering a child. However, other than the prevention of pregnancy, undergoing a vasectomy procedure does not otherwise alter a man’s manliness and should not negatively affect sexual desire or performance. Men undergoing vasectomy can expect their erections, climaxes, and the amount of ejaculate to remain the same as before surgery. Now, there may be some time immediately following the procedure that there is soreness during arousal, but the sensation is usually temporary and often resolves within a few days.
Having a Vasectomy Will Increase Your Risk of Prostate Cancer
Even with many studies conducted on this very topic, there is no scientifically proven evidence that having a vasectomy causes prostate cancer, or that it increases a man’s prostate cancer risk. Some men – whether or not they have had a vasectomy – who are at increased risk for prostate cancer development. These include such factors as men who have a close family member diagnosed with prostate cancer, African-American men, and men who are obese or who smoke. The best defense against prostate cancer for any man isn’t avoiding a vasectomy if it’s the right birth control option for him. It’s focusing on best-practice lifestyle choices like making nutritious dietary choices, exercising, maintaining healthy body weight, and quitting smoking.
While we may never entirely banish myths about vasectomy from our societal storytelling, some facts about it are clear. First, while no surgical or medical procedure can be called 100 percent risk-free, vasectomy is one such procedure that is known to be extremely safe. Complications arising from the surgery are uncommon and very rarely serious. Additionally, vasectomy is a nearly 100 percent effective birth control option. The same cannot be said for condoms that can break or slide off, and birth control pills, which can decrease in effectiveness if not taken with near-precision consistency. If you think a vasectomy might be right for you, don’t just talk to your friends about it. Talk to your doctor.