She Chooses Vasectomy!
June is Men’s Health Month and we’re focusing on everyone’s favorite Father’s Day conversation: vasectomy. Ask around and you’ll get everything from, “It’s no big deal” to “no comment”. Few topics in medicine generate as much mystery, and fear, than vasectomy. Perhaps that’s why for something so well known, only 5% of American men ages 15-44 have undergone a vasectomy compared to 22% of women of the same age who choose a sterility method such as contraception. And despite the potentially lower risk and cost of vasectomy compared to permanent female sterilization such as tubal ligation, the majority of American couples choose female sterilization. Why?
Let’s consider Jake, a 35 year old accountant. Jake and his wife, Donna, have agreed they’re done having children. Having delivered two healthy children, Donna feels that Jake should get the vasectomy. Jake is scared but won’t admit it. He’s scared the vasectomy hurts. He’s scared the vasectomy causes erectile dysfunction or dries up his orgasms and ejaculations. He’s scared the vasectomy takes away his manhood and changes his hormone levels. He’s scared the vasectomy causes other problems like cancer. No wonder Jake is nervously pacing my exam room. Or perhaps Jake convinces Donna to stay on the Pill or get her tubes tied.
Jake’s fears are reasonable but not helpful when laced with misinformation. So what is fact and fiction? Let’s start with what a vasectomy is. Vasectomy is a procedure done usually in the office under a local anesthesia (numbing medicine) while you’re awake. The vas deferens is the tube that carries sperm (the seed) from the testicles which make sperm. The vas travels up the scrotum then plunges deep in the pelvis to plug into the prostate and seminal vesicles, which provide ejaculate (the juice). You’ve got one vas on each side so you have to cut both in order for vasectomy to work. The procedure takes approximately 15 minutes and the recovery is usually 1-2 days due to soreness and swelling. There are many techniques (I use the no scalpel approach) but they are all variations on the same theme to make you sterile with minimal discomfort. Vasectomy is highly effective, with a failure rate of 1 in 1000 or less.
Back to Jake. Will vasectomy hurt? Not as much as he thinks, and most men do not require pain pills afterwards. Will vasectomy cause erectile dysfunction? No. Will vasectomy cause dry orgasms and loss of ejaculations? No. Vasectomy removes sperm from the semen but the amount of what comes out remains the same. Think: all juice, no seed. Will vasectomy take away his manhood? No. Vasectomy cuts only the vas and leaves the testicles intact. Cutting the vas does not affect hormone levels including testosterone and sex drive. Will vasectomy cause prostate cancer? No. Multiple studies have disproven this myth.
Vasectomy is one of the safest and most effective ways for a couple to achieve sterility. After Jake and Donna met with me and learned the facts of vasectomy, the choice was clear. Donna chose vasectomy.