Myth-Busting the Vasectomy
Ray Smith
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Myth-Busting the Vasectomy

If you are a man who doesn’t want to father any more children, you may have been part of a discussion related to long-term birth control. Maybe you’ve thought about a vasectomy. For some, it seems like a reasonable option, until they have to make the appointment. Then, they stall. There are fears of becoming impotent, of losing sexual desire, and even of being somehow accidently castrated. None of these common fears is even remotely likely.

In actuality, a vasectomy is an excellent way to prevent pregnancy. You’ve likely already heard about the benefits over other methods. In all but the absolute rarest of cases, vasectomies free you completely from worries of causing an unwanted pregnancy. They are also a lot cheaper and safer than a woman getting a tubal ligation, known as getting tubes tied. Still the myths about vasectomies persist. That’s why I am here to address, and debunk some of the common misconceptions about vasectomies. 

Myth #1: They are going to do a lot of cutting.
During a vasectomy, the vas deferens (the narrow, muscular tubes that connect the testicles, where sperm is produced, to the urethra) are clamped, cut, or otherwise sealed. It can be done through one tiny puncture to the skin using the no-scalpel technique. The whole procedure takes about 20 – 30 minutes from start to finish and is most often performed in the doctor’s office, rather than a hospital. The take-home message is this: a vasectomy is a big decision, not a big medical procedure.

Myth #2: This is going to hurt.
A man’s testicles are sensitive, so it would make sense if you thought that the procedure and recovery would be painful. But we are not affecting the testicles at all, just their wiring, so to speak. The whole area will be numb for 1 to 2 hours after a vasectomy. After that, you should apply cold packs to the area and lie on your back as much as possible for the rest of the day. Hint: schedule your vasectomy to occur just before your favorite televised event, say the NFL draft or the annual Twilight Zone marathon. After a few days of relaxation, you will be as good as new.

Myth #3: I am going to lose my edge.
Undoubtedly, there is something psychologically significant about the ability to reproduce. There is absolutely no physiological difference between men who have had vasectomies and those who have not. The testicles continue to produce sperm, just like they always have. The sperm are reabsorbed back into the body, which is exactly what happens to sperm that are not ejaculated regardless of whether you have had a vasectomy or not. Because the tubes are blocked before the parts of the body that produce semen, you still ejaculate about the same amount of fluid. No one, except your urologist, can tell the difference. 

Myth #4: Sometimes it doesn’t work, and couples still conceive.
Vasectomies are 99.85 percent effective. Only 1 to 2 women out of 1,000 will have an unplanned pregnancy in the first year after their partners have had a vasectomy. Reversals are possible, but they are expensive and sometimes unsuccessful. That’s why you should be absolutely certain that you would like to prevent all likelihood of pregnancy.

For most couples who would like to rule out adding to their families, the vasectomy is one of the best options out there. It has a lot of benefits over other methods and very few or very rare drawbacks. Once it’s over, you’ll wonder why it took you so long.

Anthony Donaldson, MD, is a board-certified urologist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. 


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