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Interviewer: When it comes to vasectomy, there are a lot of myths that you might hear about from friends or maybe you've even read them on the internet and they're simply not true. And a lot of times, these myths could contribute to the fact that maybe not as many men get a vasectomy in the United States compared to other parts of the world.
Dr. Alex Pastuszak is a urologist and a reproductive expert at University of Utah Health. And I'd love to get you as the expert to address some of these common myths that I found out on the internet about vasectomy and find out if they're true or not. I think one of all them that you hear is it's called getting snipped sometimes, which makes me think that this is a pretty major surgical procedure. Is that true?
Myth #1: Vasectomy is a Major Surgery
Dr. Pastuszak: Great first question, great leading question. And ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that this is one of the least invasive procedures that a guy can have or a human being can have for that matter, because literally we're talking about two half-inch incisions, one or two half incisions in your scrotum and a quick pulling up of your vas -- clipping, cutting, putting it all back in there and suturing it up. All of this takes 15 minutes, very quick, not invasive.
Interviewer: All right. So getting snipped, that's really unfortunate isn't it that people refer to it as that?
Dr. Pastuszak: I mean it is factually correct, but it's not invasive.
Myth #2: A Vasectomy is Painful
Interviewer: Yeah, okay. What about this myth? It's really, really painful. Oh, it's going to hurt.
Dr. Pastuszak: Not true. If we did it back the way they would have done it back in the 1200s or 1400s before there was any form of anesthesia, then yes, maybe. But we use really good local anesthesia. We give you some oral meds that also numb things up a little bit for you. So the pain scale here is really minimal.
Interviewer: All right. And what about recovery pain? Sometimes I hear that it can be kind of painful to recover?
Dr. Pastuszak: Yeah. You know, I'll be frank with you. I tell guys to expect that, you know, they will feel like they got kicked in the boys for a day or so, on and off, so it's not constant and then that goes away.
Interviewer: All right. And that's really kind of a small price to pay when you think about it that from then on out, for the rest of your life, you don't have to think of birth control for you and your spouse?
Dr. Pastuszak: Think about the freedom that comes with a minor bit of pain for a day or two.
Myth #3: A Vasectomy Affects Testosterone
Interviewer: Absolutely. All right. What about this myth? It will affect my testosterone production, and all of a sudden I'm going to start watching "Gilmore Girls" and I'm going to have a high-pitched voice. My muscles are going to go away.
Dr. Pastuszak: Two words -- not true. Now, let me say just a word about that, because I think it's important. Okay? So guys, testosterone doesn't come up through your vas up into your body. It goes into your bloodstream. Your testicles make testosterone. Doing a vasectomy is not going to stop your testicles from making testosterone. Your testosterone levels may go down as you get older, but this has nothing to do with whether or not you had a vasectomy.
Myth #4: A Vasctomy Reduces Sexual Pleasure
Interviewer: All right, that's good. What about this one? It's going to change sexual function or it's going to reduce a man's pleasure.
Dr. Pastuszak: Not at all. Your penis stays the way it was before vasectomy. And testosterone is really important in all those processes and, just like we said, we're not messing with that.
Interviewer: The key thing I'm picking up here is it's what are we actually doing, and we're just cutting that one little small tube that allows the sperm to go out into the world.
Dr. Pastuszak: That's right.
Myth #5: A Vasectomy Causes Prostate Cancer and Cardiovascular DIsease
Interviewer: What about this one? This is a little bit more serious. It can cause prostate cancer, or it has been linked to cardiovascular disease if you get this procedure done.
Interviewer: There is no convincing evidence right now. There have been a couple of papers, but there is no evidence that would really suggest that vasectomy actually causes prostate cancer or is related to cardiovascular disease. These studies were all based on big cohorts that were not necessarily vetted very well. So there were imperfections in these studies, and in the urologic community right now, there's nobody who has changed practice as a result of any of them. So proof is certainly not 100% or even close to it.
Interviewer: It sounds like perhaps other things could have caused these things, not vasectomy in the data.
Dr. Pastuszak: Right. You know, guys will get prostate cancer as they get older.
Interviewer: That's just going to happen.
Dr. Pastuszak: It's just going to happen, exactly. Same thing with cardiovascular disease. Just because you link it to a vasectomy doesn't mean it's true.
Myth #6: A Vasectomy will Cause Sperm Build up
Interviewer: And finally, how about this one that my sperm is going to build up? Now I'm saying this is just what I found on the internet. I mean, I don't know how somebody believes this, but apparently somebody does. My sperm's going to build up, and my testicles will explode as a result.
Dr. Pastuszak: So that, that's one of my favorites. And it's a legitimate question, right, because you are blocking the exit of sperm from the testicles.
Interviewer: And as high schoolers we know what that did.
Dr. Pastuszak: Right. Exactly, the blue and five letter word after that. The answer to this is that know your boys are not going to explode after you have a vasectomy. The body just reabsorbs the sperm that are made in your testicle. I mean, it knows that they have nowhere to go, and then it's just going to soak them right back up. So don't worry about it.
Bonus Myth: A Vasectomy Ruins Orgasms
Interviewer: All right. Any other myths out there?
Dr. Pastuszak: You know, I think you've covered it pretty well. I did also just want to touch on the orgasm one, because we talked a little bit about sexual function and we talked about sensation but not orgasm. No effect on orgasm either. Guys, just be reassured that this is a very local thing that we're doing. We're going to keep you from having babies in the future, and it's not going affect anything that you associate with your sexuality, manhood or your livelihood.
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