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Birth Control and Sterilization

What Are the Disadvantages of a Vasectomy?

The chief disadvantage of a vasectomy is its permanence, although this is also considered the chief advantage. The procedure itself is simple, but reversing it is difficult, expensive, and can be unsuccessful. But, it is possible to store semen in a sperm bank to preserve the possibility of producing a pregnancy at some future date. However, doing this is costly, and the sperm in stored semen do not always remain viable (able to cause pregnancy).

For all of these reasons, doctors advise that a vasectomy be undertaken only by men who are prepared to accept the fact that they will no longer be able to father a child. The decision should be considered along with other contraceptive options and discussed with a professional counselor. Men who are married or in a serious relationship should also discuss the issue with their partners.

Although it is extremely effective for preventing pregnancy, a vasectomy does not offer protection against AIDS or other STDs. Consequently, it is important that vasectomized men continue to use condoms, preferably latex, which offer considerable protection against the spread of disease.

Another disadvantage is the immune reactions to sperm that some men develop after a vasectomy, although current evidence indicates that these reactions do not cause any harm.

Ordinarily, sperm do not come in contact with immune cells, so they do not cause an immune response. But a vasectomy breaks through the barriers that separate immune cells from sperm, and many men develop anti-sperm antibodies after undergoing the procedure. This has caused concern on the part of doctors and researchers, because immune reactions against parts of one's own body sometimes cause disease. Rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile diabetes, and multiple sclerosis are just some of the illnesses suspected or known to be caused by immune reactions of this type.

Does a Vasectomy Affect Sexuality?

No. A vasectomy does not affect the production or release of testosterone, the male hormone responsible for a man's sex drive, beard, deep voice, and other masculine traits. The operation also has no effect on sexuality. Erections, climaxes, and the amount of ejaculate remain the same.

Occasionally, a man may experience sexual difficulties after a vasectomy, but these almost always have an emotional basis and usually can be alleviated with counseling. More often, men who have undergone the procedure, and their partners, find that sex is more spontaneous and enjoyable once they are freed from concerns about accidental pregnancy.

Does a Vasectomy Increase a Man's Risk of Prostate Cancer?

Some research studies have led to questions about the link between vasectomies and prostate cancer. The most current research shows that a vasectomy does not increase a man's risk of developing prostate cancer and that this concern should not be a reason to avoid having one.




WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on June 23, 2012

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