You probably don’t need an article like this to tell you getting a vasectomy is a big deal. Chances are you’ll already know that while it’s the most effective form of birth control, it’s also virtually a one way street.
Sure, it’s technically reversible, but that’s complicated and carries no guarantees. So it goes without saying it’s best to be 100% sure before you decide to officially start trimming the family tree.
What if we’ve already made the choice though? If we’re certain either that kids just aren’t for us, or that twenty’s plenty. Are there other factors to worry about?
Relax, nobody’s talking about some shaky handed surgeon turning us into life sized Ken dolls. The docs know what they’re doing. We’re thinking more of potential knock-on effects to your quality of life post-op.
For example, healthy testosterone is vital to reproduction and low levels often go hand in hand with infertility. Is there any chance then the reverse is true? Will a vasectomy see T levels drop off, taking our muscle mass, mood, stamina and libido with them?
The stop op
A vasectomy might be a big decision, but ironically it’s actually quite a simple procedure.
The surgeon will cut or clamp something called your – yeah okay, sorry – the vas deferens. These are the narrow tubes which connect the testicles to the urethra.
During ejaculation, the vas deferens act as a kind of slip road or on ramp between the testicles, where sperm is produced and your urethra, which is basically the express lane to Baby Town.
A vasectomy prevents sperm from mixing with the semen in the urethra, so though you still ejaculate, there’s no chance of conceiving. You’re still taking that expressway, you’ve just no passengers on board. Guaranteed this won’t be a family trip.
Barring a tricky and often unsuccessful reversal, that’s it. Your full stop on fertility.
It’s best not to go too nuts with your new found freedom right away though. Sometimes it takes a few months after the procedure for your semen to be completely free of sperm.
The doesn’t mean a vow of celibacy, just your usual precautions for a little longer.
So what about those T levels, are there any negative effects?
To explore this, we need to boldly go where an estimated 500,000 men a year in the U.S and 12,000 in the U.K, have boldly gone before. (Hmm, not as catchy, that.)
Let’s start with a study by Smith et al in 1977. Scientists followed 56 vasectomy patients tor 2 years after their surgery, monitoring plasma testosterone levels. Their results might surprise you. 6 months on from the op the men’s plasma T levels had risen slightly.
They also noted that average plasma estradiol, which is a type of estrogen, had dropped. Remarkably, even at the end of 2 years this hadn’t changed.
Later, in 1988 Honda et al reported similar findings. For this trial the team compared T levels in 66 men under 60, 33 of whom had undergone vasectomies. Once more it was observed that those who had gone through the procedure had fractionally higher male hormone levels than the control group who hadn’t.
A bigger study that same year, by Reinberg et al monitored similar hormonal changes, this time in 260 men before and after a vasectomy. Strike three. Compared to before their trip for the snip, T levels were elevated. Not by much, but enough to be significant.
Fair point, these studies weren’t exactly yesterday, but there’s really been no work contradicting them since.
So we can be pretty certain that not only does a vasectomy not risk your t levels it may actually stimulate them.
Leave the fun in functional
Another concern we hear is that a vasectomy may affect sexual performance.
That’s understandable. I mean, just because you’re not a professional chef anymore, doesn’t mean you won’t still feel like making dinner a lot of the time.
Well, there are 3 main reasons for erectile dysfunction. Hormonal problem, a physical injury or a psychological issue. Let’s at how a vasectomy affects these.
First off, we’ve just heard that it doesn’t impact male sex hormone (except maybe positively) so no worries on that score.
Next, the nerves in the penis don’t come into play with a vasectomy operation. If your surgeon knows what they’re doing there’s no reason why blood flow or sensation should be impaired.
That leaves us with psychological. Weirdly evidence tends to show that a vasectomy can actually improve sexual confidence. Something to do with not having to hold back to avoid, um, unexpected blessings.
A 2010 study actually reported that in most cases a vasectomy was a positive influence on both sexual desire and satisfaction levels between couples.
V & the big C
Prostate cancer is the second most common in men the world over so it’s something we should all take seriously. Worryingly, the occasional study has popped up claiming a vasectomy increases our risk.
However a direct cause and effect link has never been found. In fact a recent review of studies in this area by the American Urological Association concluded there was no difference in risk of prostate cancer between men with and without vasectomies,
This is largely backed up by a recent European prospective study from March of 2017. In a work which involved 4400 men with prostate cancer, 641 with vasectomies, researchers concluded the procedure was not linked with prostate cancer risk after an average of 15 years of follow-up.
The team did note a fractionally higher occurrence of low-grade, less severe prostate cancer in those with vasectomies, but nothing significant enough to cause concern.
Dr Meir Stampfer who was part of the research stated in a press release,
The final cut
So a vasectomy doesn’t really increase your risk of prostate cancer, may improve your sex life and can actually boost T.
Ah-ah! Don’t you dare! There’s only one reason you should be thinking about getting the op.
We’ve given you plenty ways on this site to get all those benefits naturally, without the need for general anaesthetic.
If you are tempted to get something on impulse which is almost always permanent and painful to reverse; that’s what tattoos of your ex’s name or the ancient Chinese symbol for chicken noodle soup are for.