Five Myths About Vasectomy
Nov 02, 2022 Jeremy Deutchman
One of the simplest and most effective methods of birth control, a vasectomy involves a safe, minimally invasive procedure that cuts and ties the tubes carrying sperm. An estimated 500,000 patients undergo the elective procedure each year—and its popularity is on the rise.
The uptick in requests for vasectomy may be attributable, in part, to this past summer’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, which had maintained abortion as a Constitutional right for nearly 50 years.
"Because we’re dealing with a sensitive part of the body, it’s understandable that people have some apprehensions about getting the procedure done. But they are largely based on misconceptions."
"The week Roe was overturned, I’d say I saw about a 300% increase in weekly vasectomies," says Dr. Justin Houman, urologist at Cedars-Sinai.
"Many of these patients likely already had the idea in their minds before the Supreme Court decision, but it undoubtedly spurred them to action."
Dispelling myths, decreasing anxiety
With a higher patient volume, Dr. Houman has also noticed an increase in the need for patient education.
"Because we’re dealing with a sensitive part of the body, it’s understandable that people have some apprehensions about getting the procedure done," he says. "But they are largely based on misconceptions."
There are a few myths related to vasectomy, Dr. Houman says.
"The good news is they’re easy to debunk, which hopefully gives people considering the procedure some critical peace of mind," he says.
MYTH #1: Sex won’t feel as good.
"It’s just not true. A vasectomy doesn’t impact any of the nerves of the penis, so there’s no change in sensitivity or pleasure,” Dr. Houman says.
If anything, the opposite is true.
"Because you no longer have to worry about impregnating your partner, many patients find post-vasectomy sex even more pleasurable than before," he says.
MYTH #2: A vasectomy lowers testosterone levels.
Here, again, the science undercuts popular perception: A vasectomy does not stop sperm from being produced—the procedure simply prevents it from traveling to the urethra and mixing with the ejaculate.
"There is zero evidence this procedure decreases testosterone. Period, end of story," Dr. Houman says.
MYTH #3: Vasectomies can cause erectile dysfunction.
"Erections are a result of good blood flow to the penis, and with vasectomies, we’re not even working close to that area," Dr. Houman says. "As a result, blood flow is maintained, and there is no impact on erectile function."
MYTH #4: Men who undergo vasectomy ejaculate less.
In the popular imagination, semen production is the exclusive province of the testicles, but the reality is quite different.
"The testicles are involved in only about 1% of semen production. The other 99% of it comes from the prostate and the seminal vesicles, which are not affected by a vasectomy," Dr. Houman says.
The bottom line: Any decrease in volume of ejaculate after the procedure is unnoticeable.
MYTH #5: Vasectomies can cause prostate cancer.
There is absolutely no link between the two, Dr. Houman says.
"Vasectomies are completely safe, in-office procedures with very minor risks—none of them are related to prostate cancer," he affirms.
Among the risks are pain, bleeding and infection. Dr. Houman points out these are extremely rare.
Most patients experience only mild or moderate pain from the procedure—usually low-level discomfort controllable with over-the-counter pain relievers.
A short road to recovery
Recovery from vasectomy is typically swift, requiring just a few days—usually no more than the span of a weekend—of reduced physical activity.
After the procedure, there are still live sperm in the urinary tract. Dr. Houman recommends patients ejaculate at least 15 times and then provide two semen samples (one at four-to-six weeks and the other six weeks after that) to ensure the sperm have been cleaned out.
Dr. Houman says the benefits of the procedure far outweigh the minimal inconvenience.
"I always tell my patients, ‘Your partner made tremendous sacrifices to grow and deliver your child. Rather than having them be on birth control, with its hormonal effects, or an IUD, with its potential complications, why not take advantage of this safe and easy way to prevent future unwanted pregnancies? It’s really the least you can do.'"