Myths About Vasectomy Recovery and Side Effects

A vasectomy is a safe, simple, and reliable method of permanent contraception. Vasectomies are becoming more and more popular. Most vasectomies are either done by a urologist or a family practitioners. The cost of a vasectomy depends on where you have it done -- but usually ranges between $300 to $2000. Many insurance plans will cover some of these costs. About one out of every five men (over the age of 35) has chosen to have a vasectomy. Yet, it seems that a lot of you men are reluctant to have this procedure. Is it because men don't want doctors tinkering around "down there"? That may be part of it, but it perhaps men are afraid to undergo "the snip" because they mistakenly belief the following myths about vasectomy recovery and vasectomy side effects.

1
The Vasectomy Recovery Is Brutal... and You Can't Have Sex for Like 3 Months

Vasectomy Recovery
Vasectomy Recovery. Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

During your vasectomy recovery, you may find yourself with some mild discomfort. Simple pain relievers can typically control these symptoms. Your recovery will most likely consist of a day of rest and an ice pack that you can apply to your scrotum. You can return to work in 1-2 days if your job doesn’t require any strenuous activity, and you can begin exercising again within 3-5 days.

You don’t need to wait three months to have sex. As long as you are feeling up to it, you can start having sex again about a week after your vasectomy. The confusion about this probably comes from the fact that after the procedure and during your vasectomy recovery, sperm will still be present in your system. It takes around 10-20 ejaculations (or three months) for sperm to no longer be present in your semen. During this time, you will need to use a back-up contraception method. Once you have a 2-3 semen analyses that confirms that there are no more sperm present, you are good to go!

2
Vasectomy Side Effects... Lower Sex Drive and I Won't Be Able to Ejaculate

There is no evidence to show that having a vasectomy will lower your desire to have sex. This vasectomy side effect is a myth. Once you have a vasectomy, you will still be able to have erections, ejaculate and orgasm. Many couples actually report that their sexual relationship becomes more intense, frequent, spontaneous, and pleasurable after a vasectomy because there is no anxiety about an unintended pregnancy. Because nothing physiologically changes within a man’s body after a vasectomy, you will not become impotent. If you could ejaculate before your vasectomy, you’ll be able to ejaculate after your vasectomy. A vasectomy does not affect the muscle contractions that force fluid out during ejaculation or with the blood vessels or nerves that are linked to erection or ejaculation.

3
Vasectomy is Totally Permanent... so I'm Screwed if I Change My Mind

A vasectomy should be thought of as a permanent method of contraception (and you should base your decision on this thinking). That being said, in many cases, a vasectomy can be reversed. A vasectomy reversal can be complicated, is not guaranteed to work, and is not covered by insurance. Success rates are higher if it has been three (or less) years since your vasectomy. You may also have the choice to freeze and store your sperm before you have a vasectomy. This way, if you do change your mind in the future, you have this option available instead of having a vasectomy reversal or if the reversal doesn’t work.

4
They Cut You Open During a Vasectomy... and Put Stitches Down There

Yes, during a traditional vasectomy a small incision is made in the upper part of the man’s scrotum, and this cut is closed off with stitches. But you are awake the whole time, and only local anesthesia is used to numb the area. You also have the option of having a no-scalpel vasectomy. During this procedure, the scrotum is punctured (not cut). Since the site of this hole is so small, you will most likely not need stitches, there is less bleeding, and your healing time is quicker.

5
A Vasectomy Will Lower My Testosterone... and I Don't Want to Be Less Manly

A vasectomy will not affect your masculinity. Yes, your testicles make both sperm and testosterone. And they will still continue to make testosterone and sperm after a vasectomy. The difference is that because your vas deferens has been cut apart, sperm will no longer be able to be ejaculated (to fertilize an egg). So even though you will continue to make sperm, they will have nowhere to go. This is okay because sperm only live for a few days, die (if not ejaculated), and then replaced by more. Your testosterone, on the other hand, doesn’t travel this path. It runs through your blood stream, so it is NOT affected by a vasectomy. Your masculinity will not change... you will have the same voice, sex drive, and facial hair.

6
Doesn't Having A Vasectomy Cause Prostate Cancer... I Don't Want That

This is another vasectomy myth. About 15 years ago, there was a large study that suggested there could be a link between men who had a vasectomy and developing prostate cancer later in life. Medically speaking, this makes no sense since the production of sperm has nothing to do with developing prostate cancer. Today’s thinking is that a man who has a vasectomy is more likely to be more responsible with his medical health. So he is more likely to keep up with prostate cancer screenings than a man who hasn’t had a vasectomy. Since prostate cancer is detected through screenings, it may seem like more men with vasectomies are being diagnosed. In reality, there is no link… it’s just a matter of numbers.

7
My Wife Can Just Have Her Tubes Tied... Isn't That Easier and More Effective?

You must immediately erase this myth from your mind! A vasectomy is one of the most cost-effective methods of contraception… costing half the price of tubal ligation. Vasectomy is also a much safer procedure. Yet, more than twice as many women have their tubes tied -- even though it costs more, involves surgery, and has a higher risk for complications.

A vasectomy has a failure rate of less than 1%. Once a semen analysis shows that sperm are no longer present in the semen, this means that a vasectomy is over 99% effective. A tubal ligation is also more than 99% effective. But, up to one out of every 100 women who had their tubes tied will become pregnant in each subsequent year after the first year following the procedure. Of every 1,000 women who have had a tubal ligation, about 18.5 will become pregnant within 10 years. This may be because there is a small possibility that the fallopian tubes may reconnect by themselves. So, this failure rate may be higher or lower depending on the type of tubal ligation a woman had as well as her age at the time of the procedure done.

Sources:

Jacobstein R, Pile R. "Vasectomy: safe, convenient, effective and underutilized." Global Health Technical Briefs. Oct 2004. Accessed via private subscription.

Peterson HB, Xia Z, Hughes JM, Wilcox LS, Tylor LR, Trussell, J. “The risk of pregnancy after tubal sterilization: Findings from the U.S. Collaborative Review of Sterilization.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1996; 174:1161–1170. Accessed via private subscription.

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