Vasectomy - is the cure worse than the problem?

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There still seems to be a lot of misconcepts about the operation on a man called a vasectomy which renders him sterile or unable to be a father.

People tend to think of it as the best way out, a surgical procedure to free a person from family planning methods forever.

But like all the other 'free sex' ideas in our society, we should quickly realize that 'free sex' is not only NOT free but comes with rather stiff prices to pay, usually physical and psychological.

There are physical side effects to vasectomies and these are what many might not want to deal with. They are long term side effects (and contrary to what TV says, it's not really easy to reverse a vasectomy):

  1. A risk of a lessened libido (ability to enjoy sex) up to 50 percent less. Add that to something like hypertension or diabetes and it spells "IMPOTENCE" i.e. unable to have sex.

    There are 80 million men in the United States today who suffer from erectile dysfunction or inability to have sex!

  2. Several studies suggest a greatly increased risk of developing prostate and/or testicular cancer in vasectomy patients. (Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer in men)

Brawley OW, Knopf K, Thompson I. The epidemiology of prostate cancer part II: The risk factors. Seminars in Urologic Oncology 1998; 16(4):193201.

Cox B, Sneyd MJ, Paul C, Delahunt B, Skegg DC. Vasectomy and risk of prostate cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association 2002; 287(23):31103115.

Dennis LK, Dawson DV, Resnick MI. Vasectomy and the risk of prostate cancer: A meta-analysis examining vasectomy status, age at vasectomy, and time since vasectomy. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases 2002; 5(3):193203.

Lesko SM, Louik C, Vezina R, Rosenberg L, Shapiro S. Vasectomy and prostate cancer. Journal of Urology 1999; 161(6):18481852.

Lightfoot N, Kreigr N, Sass-Kortsak A, Purdham J, Buchan G. Prostate cancer risk. Annals of Epidemiology 2000; 10(7):470.

The first risk I mentioned has been listed in the Merck Manual for years. Health care providers do not generally warn people of this risk. And the impotence which can result can not be 'fixed' by Viagra. Viagra doesn't cause erection, it simply sustains one. That means that 75 percent of the men suffering from 'erectile dysfunction' can not expect Viagra to fix the problem. (And this is what Pfitzer, the pharmaceutical has maintained from the beginning.)

As far as the risk of prostate cancer, this was discovered in the 1980's. However, still today, the procedure is being hawked as a 'low risk' surgery without complications. Health care providers do not warn about the prostate cancer link. Most discover it later, after the fact.

The physical risks can add to the psychological side effects. Impotency is not well accepted in our society which makes a god out of ability to have sex. A marriage wherein the man cannot have sex, must make many adjustments. And adultery is NOT a good adjustment!

The couple facing inability to have sex must remember that affection can be had many different ways besides sexually. Prayer helps and it also helps to remember the marriage vows. The sexual joining is only a symbol of the spiritual joining which takes place at the marriage ceremony.

Even if impotence is not suffered, the decreased libido experienced by 90 percent of men having the surgery, can ill effect a marriage, especially many modern marriages where sex has been a key element. After the expectations of having a flourishing sex life, unfettered by Family Planning, it comes as a shock that the sex life greatly diminishes. This is especially true if the couple has been using Natural Family Planning which tends to make the sex life wonderfully rich because it is so natural and so safe and so effective.

The bottom line is, if you are a man trying to decide if a vasectomy is for you, consider this - if you don't know if your wife will stay with you if you can no longer have sex, don't have the operation!

The Catholic church considers sterilization a deforming of the human body and an affront against God, the author of life. With the arrival of Natural Family Planning which is 95 percent effective, it would not seem that anyone would even consider a vasectomy. (Using NFP doesn't mean the wife WON'T get pregnant - it means chances are slim. No method of family planning is 100 percent effective and the artificial means are dangerous. The Catholic church considers the attitude prevalent today of "I don't want to get pregnant, no matter what" as the abortion mentality and statistics back this up. According to the Guttmacher Institute which is affiliated with Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider, at least 50 percent or more of abortions are from 'failed contraception'. Having an attitude of "I would like to not get pregnant now but if God has someone waiting for me, I will accept His Will", is not only in accordance with Church teaching, it is also Biblical as well.) Natural Family Planning leaves deciding when to ask God for kids a decision between the husband AND the wife and also provides that God, who knows best, can override our decisions.

Sterilization is a very final thing and like all final things, is apt to change the attitudes of the couple somewhat. The man with a vasectomy may think he can now 'get away' with a side affair. The woman may wonder about whether her husband will be true to her, especially if they had sex before they were married. The hope of children who really bring richness to a marriage and a special type of fulfillment, is forever gone. (it's rare that sterilization can be successfully reversed). This is not felt strongly while mother has a babe in arms or the chatter of little voices are prevalent but as children grow up and have their own lives, the sterilized couple may feel a barren quality to their relationship and the option of another little one is now, not available to them. Pets don't cut it - many people use them like kids but although they are sweet things, there is no comparison to having a pet and having a kid around.

Most couples who have experienced sterilization, have seen some strained moments after and this is an issue which people considering this final solution should take into consideration.

One thing to ponder -- why is it that in our highly technical, advanced society, there still are no really safe ways of sterilization?

Find out more about Natural Family planning (