Men can be very concerned about what happens during, and after, a vasectomy - specifically how it will affect them personally. Dr. Jesse Mills, a clinical professor of urology and director of The Men's Clinic at UCLA, says the many myths surrounding the procedure can make men rethink what is often a smart choice for them.
"One of the things I get all the time, questions in my clinic, are men who ask about vasectomies," he said. "They want to know what's going to happen to them."
Here, he debunks the common myths about vasectomies.
Myth #1: Men stop ejaculating after a vasectomy.
A man's ejaculate, or semen, is made up of three organ system fluids - testicular fluid or sperm, which makes up 1 percent; fluid from seminal vesicles, paired structures that contribute the sugar and fluid component that keep sperm healthy and alive; and prostate gland fluids, which help propel the semen into the urethra. In a vasectomy, doctors disconnect the sperm tubes only.
"So 99 percent of your ejaculate that you had before the vasectomy will not be affected," Mills said.
Myth #2: Men stop making sperm after a vasectomy.
Sperm are still made, but because they're not used, they get absorbed into the body and remade again later. Nothing happens to sperm production after vasectomy.
"They're just hanging out, waiting for their day in the sun," Mills said.
Myth #3: It's easier for a woman to undergo surgical birth control than for a man.
"It really is time to man up here, guys," Mills said.
Tubal ligation, the permanent birth control option for women, is much more invasive. Vasectomy is a 10- to 15-minute procedure that, most of the time, requires only local anesthetic. Usually, men fully recover within a week.
Myth #4: Vasectomy causes cancer.
"I've had men come in and ask me to reverse their vasectomy because they're worried about getting prostate or testicular cancer," Mills said.
In reality, hundreds of thousands of men get vasectomies in this country every year, with no correlated increase in cancer risk.
Myth #5: Vasectomy is going to kill my mojo.
"This is what guys are so worried about, that vasectomy is going to get rid of their testosterone, and they won't have any interest in sex anymore," Mills said.
However, the opposite is true. Vasectomy has very little to do with testosterone production. Testosterone is made in the testicles and gets secreted into the blood stream, which physicians don't alter during vasectomy. All blood vessels present before vasectomy are present afterward. What vasectomy does for most men is liberate them. They can relax and enjoy sex more without worrying about pregnancy.