Separating myths from facts: The truth about vasectomy

Vasectomy is a reversible procedure

Vasectomy is a reversible procedure

What you need to know:

  • Data from the Economic Survey 2020 shows that in 2019, 658 men underwent vasectomy, in 2018, the number was 646 while in 2016, the number was 919.
  • Vasectomy is a reversible mode of family planning.
  • Vasectomy has no impact on sexual performance, orgasm, sexual desire, ejaculation, and erectile capabilities.

“My wife has been on contraceptives since we started having children. Now that they are adults I have decided to undergo vasectomy and free her from contraceptives.” This is what a man identified as Kamau told the media after undergoing vasectomy at the National Theatre during the 2016 World Vasectomy Day. Kamau can be considered bold and brave because most men in Kenya do not embrace vasectomy.

Data from the Economic Survey 2020 shows that in 2019, 658 men underwent vasectomy, in 2018, the number was 646 while in 2016, the number was 919. This is in contrast to over 2.5 million women who took family planning injections in 2019 alone.

What is it?

Vasectomy, also known as male sterilisation, is a procedure that is performed on ductus deferens. “The ductus deferens, also known as vas deferens, is a thick-walled tube found in the male reproductive system. The tube transports sperm cells from the sperm storage facility known as epididymis,” says Dr. Patrick Hiuhu, a physician. He explains that during a vasectomy, the tubes are cut or sealed to prevent sperm from passing through to the urethra for ejaculation during intercourse. 

Advances in medical engineering have made the process easier to conduct. According to Dr. Charles Ochieng, the founder of Family Health Options Kenya, you don’t always have to undergo the scalpel. “The alternative procedure uses spray anaesthesia and takes about ten minutes. The tubes are accessed using equipment known as the ring clamp,” said Dr. Ochieng.

After vasectomy, it takes between one and two weeks for an incision to completely heal. Dr. Janet Brito, a certified sex therapist and co-author of Integrative Sex & Couples Therapy says that vasectomy doesn’t change the feeling or sensation during intimacy. “Most men are afraid that the sensation of orgasm is different after vasectomy. It is not. Neither is the quality or amount of semen,” she says.


Sex and vasectomy

Ejaculating ‘dry air’ is one of the commonly peddled myths about vasectomy and sex. Truth is that vasectomy has no impact on sexual performance, orgasm, sexual desire, ejaculation, and erectile capabilities. However, it can take up to three months after undergoing vasectomy before one can start having unprotected sex. The break is to allow your sperm count to reduce to zero. “After vasectomy, you will get clinical appointments at between 6 to 12 weeks to analyse if there is any sperm left in your semen before you can start engaging in unprotected sex,” says Dr. Hiuhu. This means that in the weeks after undergoing vasectomy, you will need to use protection during intercourse because your semen may still contain sperm that could be potent enough to cause pregnancy.

Is it reversible?

Vasectomy is a reversible mode of family planning. According to urologist Dr. Sarah Vij, the success rate of a vasectomy reversal will mainly depend on the time that has elapsed since the procedure was done. Where a reversal procedure is done within the first ten years, chances of success are as high as 95 percent. From 15 years and above, the rate of success declines significantly.

Does vasectomy cause prostate cancer?

According to medical research of 42,000 men aged 40 and above who had undergone vasectomy in the United States, there is no link between vasectomy and the onset of fatal prostate cancer. The result of this medical research by the American Cancer Society was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2016. The research also found that men who undergo vasectomy do not have an increased risk of getting prostate cancer. If they get prostate cancer, they are not more likely to die from it than men who don’t undergo vasectomy. Men who’d want to lower their risk of fatal prostate cancer need to maintain a healthy weight and quit smoking, which is associated with a high risk of fatal prostate cancer,” said Dr. Eric Jacobs, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society who led this research.


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