Debunking vasectomy myths; effective family planning

A vasectomy is a cost-effective option for family planning, according to a published report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The report, titled Vasectomy: Reaching out to New Users, states that vasectomy is a simpler and more cost effective option than female sterilisation and offers men a way to share responsibility for family planning.

Advances in medicine have made procedures like vasectomies a less daunting family planning option than female sterilisation. “A vasectomy is a relatively easy outpatient procedure, which does not require hospitalisation or the use of needles or scalpels”, says Dr. John Pettit, a board-certified urologist with Harmonic Health Consultants in Cayman.

The procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes to perform and the recovery time is minimal, said Dr. Pettit.

For some men, the idea of getting a vasectomy can be daunting and scary.

“Many people assume that vasectomies decrease “manhood”, masculinity and even sexual performance”, said Dr. Pettit. “Because there are many misconceptions about vasectomies, it is important that people become informed about the facts before they make up their minds.”

One of the commonly held misconceptions about the procedure is that men stop producing sperm after having a vasectomy. “The truth is that men continue to make sperm after a vasectomy unless other factors come into play,” Dr. Pettit said.

“Family planning is an important responsibility for both men and women and despite the many traditional opinions, I see more men sharing in this responsibility by choosing vasectomy as an option”, he said.

Although reversible, vasectomy is only appropriate for men who no longer want to bear children. “Despite the common misconception, a man can still continue to enjoy sex after having a vasectomy, and more importantly, vasectomies are reversible”, Dr. Pettit said.

He added: “I encourage people to learn about all the family planning options available to them and to also contact a health care provider if they have any questions or concerns.”

Common myths about vasectomies

Myth #1: Men stop making sperm after a vasectomy.

Fact: Men continue to make sperm regardless of how long it is has been since having the vasectomy, unless other factors come into play. Some include injury to the testicles, exposure to chemicals or toxins or other series medical problems.

 Myth #2: Vasectomy reversals don’t work after 10 years.

Fact: Many men are able to father children after vasectomy reversals and reports have shown that couples have conceived naturally 15 years after the man has had a vasectomy.

Myth #3: Vasectomy is the same as castration.

Fact: Vasectomy is not the same as castration. Castration involves the removal of the testicles. Vasectomy leaves the testicles intact and men continue to produce male hormones after having the procedure.

Myth #4: Vasectomy is an unsafe family planning option that requires hospitalisation.

Fact: While both vasectomy and female sterilisation are safe procedures, statistically vasectomy proves to be safer. Vasectomies can be performed in almost any setting, including doctor’s offices and clinics. Facilities need more equipment and infrastructure to offer female sterilisation.

Myth #5: Vasectomies require a longer recovery period than female sterilisation.

Fact: Men are advised to rest and avoid sex for two days after a vasectomy, while women should take a week to recover from female sterilisation.