Vasectomy: myths around the big snip
On World Contraception Day, some health centres in Kenya offer free contraception to anyone who walks in. Sometimes, this means vasectomies.
Men tend to collectively shudder at the thought of snipping something off around their penis, which means never being able to bear children. This tends to be for different reasons – some men think that it is un-African, and is nothing our ‘ancestors’ would approve of – particularly that ‘not having kids’-part. Others think that it is unnatural, and is probably a conspiracy by feminists to emasculate men. Rest assured, feminists aren’t out planning how to get men to stop producing sperm.
Here’s the truth: a vasectomy is just another method of contraception. Some men prefer to not have children. And, some men have vasectomies after they’ve had children because they know they don’t want to have any more babies, for whatever reason. Sometimes, they can’t afford them. Sometimes, one, or two, or three – is all they want.
So what other misconceptions do people have about vasectomies? Here are the top four myths about vasectomy we’re busting today, in honour of World Contraception Day, September 26th.
Having a vasectomy makes you less of a man
Not true! What makes a man a man is not his ability to release sperm – which you can still do after a vasectomy, by the way. Being a father does not make you a man, officially. There are other more infinitely important things, such as whether you take care of the people you are responsible for – your family, people who are less privileged than you, and so forth; how kind you are to those who can do nothing for you; and if you keep your word as a man and as a human on this earth.
Your humanity, and your manliness, is not tied – no pun intended – to your sperm count.
You hate children
That’s not true either. Some men get vasectomies after they’ve already had children. Some couples prefer this method of contraception as it has no effects on the woman, in terms of hormonal intake – as opposed to contraception methods like the pill, or the hormonal IUD.
Vasectomies are forever
Not true! While vasectomies are indeed advertised as a ‘non-reversible’ birth control method, you can reverse a vasectomy. It takes a lot longer and may be much more expensive than getting an actual vasectomy but it is possible.
When you get a vasectomy, your healthcare provider cuts or otherwise blocks the tubes that carry sperm. If you get a vasectomy reversal, the doctor has to reconnect or unblock these tubes so that sperm can reach your semen again.
A man shouldn’t get a vasectomy: let the women get tubal ligation
The effects of a tubal ligation (literally, tying a woman’s tubes) are much more serious than those of a vasectomy, studies show.
They are more painful and take longer to recover from. On worldvasectomyday.org, they describe it: ‘While a failed vasectomy (exceedingly rare) ends up as a normal pregnancy, a failed tubal ligation can result in an ectopic pregnancy, one of the leading causes of maternal mortality.’
In other words, an ectopic pregnancy could lead to mother and/or child dying while carrying the pregnancy to term.
At the end of the day, it is up to you and your partner to decide what form of contraception works best for you. These conversations about contraception are important, as well as a visit to a doctor who can advise you on it.
Effective contraception is about what every individual and couple decides to do, based on what is best for them.
This is perfectly natural. Figure out what works for you – and then do it.