World Vasectomy Day (WVD), observed on the third Friday of November worldwide, was founded in 2013 by documentary filmmaker Jonathan Stack and a urologist and vasectomy service provider, Dr. Doug Stein. However, as the national NGO Population Foundation of India will tell you, even seven decades after the inception of the National Programme for Family Planning, many men continue to believe that family planning and contraception are women’s responsibilities. The awareness about male birth planning options is limited and it is women who have to choose between tubectomies, intrauterine devices, pills, or injections.
Alok Vajpeyi, Lead - Core Grants & Knowledge Management, spokesperson for the Population Foundation of India, busts myths that prevent men from even considering a vasectomy. Here are some of them:
Myth: Vasectomy is not safe
Reality: Vasectomy is a safe and reliable form of male birth control. It prevents the release of sperm to mix with semen when a man ejaculates and compared to the complications that women while going through tubectomy surgeries. The risk of greater complications such as bleeding or longer bouts of pain is just one or two per cent. The real battle is that of perception, and only when enough information reaches a critical mass, will things shift.
Myth: Vasectomy is painful
Reality: Once anaesthesia is administered, there is no risk of pain. Recovery could mean two to three days of soreness and less than a week of avoiding normal sexual activities. Men can get back to work soon after a procedure and carry on with daily lives normally. And yet so many men prefer to put their female partners through the tubectomies even when they are in poor health. The misconception that women have to manage contraception and family planning responsibilities alone is widely prevalent, and must be systematically countered.
Myth: Vasectomy causes more sexual difficulties
Reality: Vasectomy is a simple, safe, and effective measure to end anxiety over the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. It does not affect any other aspect of sexual activity.
Myth: Vasectomy cannot be reversed
Reality: Vasectomy can be reversed but it is a difficult and an expensive procedure. The results depend on specific health conditions. Vasectomies may be reversible up to 20 years or longer after the first procedure, but a longer period may not promise the best results.
Myth: Vasectomy is the same as castration
Reality: Vasectomy only affects the tube through which the sperm travels and leaves the testicles intact. This innate fear that a procedure like this 'robs' a man of his manhood is at the root of male resistance to vasectomy.