13 Common Vasectomy Myths Debunked

November 21,2023 |
a man at a table talking to his doctor

In a world where several contraceptive methods are available, vasectomy remains one of the most effective and reliable choices for birth control in men. Yet, despite its proven track record, there are still plenty of myths and misconceptions surrounding the procedure. Here, we'll debunk 13 of the most common ones that men may have.

What is a Vasectomy?

Sperm are produced in the testicles and released into a coiled tube called the epididymis, where they mature and gain the ability to swim. During ejaculation, the sperm are propelled from the epididymis into a duct called the vas deferens. From there, the sperm in your system mix with seminal fluid and are ejaculated out of the body through the urethra.

A vasectomy is a form of birth control for men that can be performed by a urologist, at your doctor's office, or in a surgical center. Before anything, your doctor will give you a small shot to numb the area with local anesthesia. The entire process takes about 10 to 30 minutes and is performed as an outpatient procedure. Once the area is numb, a small puncture is made in the scrotum, and part of the vas deferens is located and cut. This prevents sperm from being released when you ejaculate. The ends can then be sealed using several methods before being returned to the scrotum. Essentially, the entire procedure is done to prevent your body from releasing sperm, but you will still experience ejaculations.

Risks of Getting a Vasectomy

Generally speaking, a vasectomy is a safe and effective procedure for pregnancy prevention. However, there are a few small risks or complications that you should be aware of. The biggest risk factor of a vasectomy involves infection due to poor post-procedure hygiene and care. Many men also find that they experience a few psychological factors at first, mainly if they are unsure of their decision. Sperm granulomas, hematoma, and post-op pain have also been reported. If you're unsure of whether a vasectomy is right for you, talk to your urologist or doctor.

13 Misconceptions About Vasectomies

So, although a vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control, there are several myths and misconceptions revolving around the procedure. Here are some of the most common:

1. Getting a Vasectomy Hurts

If the idea of pain may be holding you back, there's no need to worry. Vasectomies are virtually painless. Thanks to the numbing medication during the procedure, the entire process will only feel like a small pinch. You may also feel a tugging sensation or pressure in a certain area, but it won't be anything that causes you pain.

2. Vasectomy Procedures Take a Long Time

A vasectomy is one of the fastest outpatient procedures there is! It can take as little as 10 minutes and rarely exceeds 30 minutes. While the method your doctor uses may alter the time you're in their office, it just involves a few cuts and seals before you're ready to go. The procedure is very quick, and you may find that it takes longer to wait for the numbing medication to work than it does for the actual vasectomy.

3. The Cost of a Vasectomy is High

Common myths about vasectomies often include their high price point. In reality, many insurance providers cover vasectomies. Even if you check your coverage details by calling the number on your insurance card and aren't covered, the cost is around $1,000.

4. Testosterone Levels Decline

Testosterone helps control your sex drive, but a vasectomy changes nothing in regard to your hormone levels. The only thing the procedure does is make it so that there is no available sperm to mix with semen before you ejaculate. If you're experiencing symptoms of low testosterone at any time, it's likely a different urology issue that needs to be addressed.

5. You'll Lose Your Sex Drive

Just as it doesn't affect hormones, a vasectomy will not affect your libido or sex drive in any way. It will not affect your erection, so you no longer have to worry about that. Sexually active men can stay sexually active after undergoing this procedure.

6. Reversal of a Vasectomy is Impossible

Vasectomies can be reversed, but you shouldn't rely on this if you're unsure about adding additional members to your family. In short, a vasectomy reversal isn't 100% successful. While they're not impossible, they are much more expensive than the original procedure. In fact, reversals can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000! They also decline in success rates over time. The longer you wait after your surgery, the lower the chances are that a reversal will be successful. So, if you're not sure, it's best to avoid unprotected sex and rely on other birth control options instead.

7. The Recovery is Brutal

Weirdly enough, one of the most common misconceptions is that the recovery period is difficult. However, with such a fast, painless procedure, getting a vasectomy doesn't mean you'll need to stay on bed rest for weeks. In fact, many men can go to the doctor on a Friday, get the procedure, and return to work on Monday. If you have a more strenuous job, however, talk to your doctor about your post-op care to be sure. Otherwise, you'll likely get a recommendation for some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and an ice pack.

8. Sex Won't Feel as Good

Even without a vasectomy, each sexual experience is different. However, the procedure is never a direct cause for these types of things. On the contrary—sex will probably feel even better after sterilization because you won't have to worry about unplanned pregnancies. This can help you better enjoy each moment without any decrease in sensation.

9. Vasectomies May Fail

Although a vasectomy is one of the most effective and most reliable forms of birth control, the procedure doesn't have an immediate response. To ensure it's a reliable form of permanent birth control, you need to wait a little. Since sperm can remain in the region of the vas deferens before the cut is made, the first 10 or so ejaculations can still result in pregnancy. Your doctor may also recommend a certain number of ejaculations over several weeks before having unprotected sex, just to be sure.

10. Your Semen Will Look Different

Less than 3% of the semen when a man ejaculates is made of sperm, so it's highly unlikely that it will look any different than before. Plus, since the tubes are cut or blocked before the prostate and the seminal vesicles, the amount of fluid that comes out will remain the same.

11. Sperm Will Build Up in Your Body

Sperm build-up is one thing a vasectomy definitely doesn't lead to. Sperm that's produced within the body and not used will be reabsorbed into your system. It does not contribute to "blue balls" or any other other issue. You won't even be able to tell the difference.

12. The Risk of Prostate Cancer Increases

Another myth is that getting a vasectomy causes prostate cancer. There are currently no studies that prove the direct causation of prostate cancer and vasectomy procedures. If you're worried about this, talk to your doctor. There are several lifestyle factors and habits that can increase the risk of prostate cancer, but this procedure isn't one of them.

13. Vasectomies Aren't the Safest Option

A vasectomy is a common procedure and one of the safest options in terms of birth control available to both you and your partner. It's true that it may require a small cut in your skin, but this will be nothing more than a tiny incision that heals quickly. Still, a vasectomy is the safest option for many couples, so it shouldn't be ignored. Talk to your doctor to learn more or if you have any additional questions.

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