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5 Common Myths About Vasectomy Debunked By An Expert

Is a vasectomy painful? Does it lower your libido? We debunked five common vasectomy myths with an expert.

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5 Common Myths About Vasectomy Debunked By An Expert
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Did you know that over 35 percent of all family planning procedures in India are female sterilisations? That's more than one-third of all procedures, while only 0.3 percent account for male sterilisations.

While medical experts say that vasectomies are the safest way to avoid unplanned pregnancies, less than 0.5 percent of family planning procedures in India are vasectomies.

But the thought of getting a vasectomy is one that makes most Indian men baulk and think twice about whether they'd rather just use condoms for protection instead. Some of these fears are based in truth, and most, if not all, are based in unfounded claims and myths.

So, if you're considering a vasectomy, or if you have fears about a vasectomy, or even if you just don't understand clearly how a vasectomy works, this is for you.

We spoke to Dr Gopinath Ramachandran, Professor of Plastic Surgery at MES Medical College in Kerala, and debunked five common myths about vasectomy.

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Myth: If You Get a Vasectomy You Lose Your Sex Drive and Masculinity 

"Absolutely nothing of that sort is true," says Dr Gopinath. "It's a simple procedure that is safe and has no impact on your sex drive."

"A vasectomy is a simple procedure. The doctor will identify and disconnect the vas deferens from the scrotum. The vas deferens is the tube that carries sperm from the testicles into semen before ejaculation," he adds.

When your vas deferens is disconnected, it doesn't affect your sex drive or masculinity. You can ejaculate as normal and you will retain your libido as it was before the procedure.

Semen is only a transmission route for sperm to enter the egg and fertilize it. It's made of plasma, mucous, and various nutrients like calcium, lactic acid, fructose, and glucose. The only thing a vasectomy does is remove sperm from your semen.

The presence of sperm in your semen doesn't affect your sex drive or your masculinity. If your sense of masculinity is tied to your sperm, then you may have deeper problems that a simple vasectomy won't fix.

A lot of the bad press and negative perception of vasectomy and sterilization in India arises from the forced sterilizations during the Emergency of the 1970s.

Like we mentioned earlier, 35.7 percent of all family planning procedures in India are female sterilisations while only 0.3 percent account for male sterilisations, according to the National Family Health Survey.

A vasectomy means you can have unprotected sex without the fear of an unplanned pregnancy. Vasectomies are appropriate for married couples who don't want to have more children, or men who wish to have unprotected sex(despite the risk of STDs), without the risk of pregnancies.

Remember, you still need to use a condom if you want to protect against STDs.

Myth: A Vasectomy Is Painful and I Can't Have Sex For A While

"A vasectomy is a simple procedure that a surgeon can perform in 30 minutes. There will be no pain after," Dr Gopinath says.

"If you've cut your hand or injured it, how long would it pain? A vasectomy won't pain any longer or more than that. It's a very simple procedure. It's very safe. There are rarely any complications."

Like Dr Gopinath says, a vasectomy is a minimally invasive procedure, and with modern medical technology and "no scalpel" procedures, the vasectomy itself is quite a painless procedure.

Most men are quite surprised that they recover in under a week. Men are usually advised to wait a few days before having sex or engaging in vigorous or strenuous activity, both sexual and otherwise.

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Myth: Vasectomy is Irreversible, And If I Change My Mind I Can't Have Children

A vasectomy is not permanent. Well, not technically. A vasectomy can be reversed, and the vas deferens reconnected through a process called recanalization.

In this process, the vas deferens is reconnected to the scrotum and this allows sperm to enter the semen again.

"The sooner you do it the better," Dr Gopinath says. "After a long time, it could be hard to reconnect the vas deferens through recanalization." The more time passes from a vasectomy, the harder it is to reconnect the vas deferens, but it's not impossible.

And, in short, no, a vasectomy is not irreversible and it's not as painful as it's built up to be.

In extremely rare cases, Dr Gopinath adds, the vas deferens can reconnect on its own, and this could lead to pregnancies, but it's usually unlikely.

Myth: If You Get A Vasectomy, You Can't Get an Erection

"Absolutely not true," says Dr Gopinath Ramachandran. "You'll suffer no negative consequences from a vasectomy. It's the safest method of preventing pregnancy," he adds.

If you could get an erection before your vasectomy, you'll be able to get an erection AFTER a vasectomy. If you suffered from erectile dysfunction before your vasectomy, you'll still likely suffer from erectile dysfunction after a vasectomy.

A vasectomy doesn't interfere with your body's ability to achieve or sustain an erection. It's quite a simple, minimally invasive procedure that does not have any impact on your ability to achieve or sustain erections.

Myth: Vasectomy is 100% Effective in Preventing Pregnancy

"A vasectomy is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, but in the immediate 1-3 months after a vasectomy, there's still a miniscule chance of pregnancy," says Dr Gopinath.

A vasectomy prevents pregnancies by removing sperm from your ejaculate. Once the procedure is complete and you've fully recovered, pregnancies are almost impossible.

However, there are some super rare, super specific exceptions where a pregnancy can still happen.

"Sometimes some sperm will remain in the tubes for up to two months after the procedure. So there's still a very small chance of pregnancies, but this usually gets resolved after two months. You need to check your sperm count after two months. Till you check and confirm, it's best to use alternative means of contraception like condoms."
Dr. Gopinath Ramachandran, Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery. MES Medical College

With that caveat, vasectomy is still the safest, most reliable method of contraception (apart from abstinence).

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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