A vasectomy is a procedure that keeps sperm from leaving the testicles. Doctors perform this outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. It’s an effective method of birth control for people who do not want to conceive children.

While the procedure is simple and has few complications, there are still many misconceptions surrounding vasectomy (like that vasectomy will cause you to go into “male menopause”).

Keep reading to learn how to separate myth from fact when it comes to vasectomy.

A vasectomy doesn’t have any effect on hormone levels or other sexual functions.

It only affects the transport of sperm to seminal fluid.

In theory, if there was extensive enough damage to the testicular blood vessels during a vasectomy, this could possibly impair testosterone production.

While this may be what gave rise to this myth, it should be noted this would be an extremely rare and unexpected complication of a vasectomy.

At the time of publication, no documentation of this happening could be found.

Getting a vasectomy doesn’t affect your hormone levels in any way.

However, some men were concerned that because sperm no longer leave during ejaculation, this could possibly harm their testosterone release, sending them into a sort of “male menopause” where their testosterone levels were low.

Researchers have studied this rumored effect and found these concerns are not true.

However, you will make progressively less testosterone as you age, but this effect isn’t related to whether you had a vasectomy. It’s a normal, expected part of getting older.

Multiple research studies have measured hormone levels (especially testosterone) before and after vasectomy and found no significant change in hormones after it.

Vasectomy also does not increase your risks of:

Vasectomies in the transgender community

It should be noted that most of the studies cited in this article consider vasectomies only to be a men’s issue. The researchers also sometimes conflate sex and gender.

While the majority of vasectomies are done on cisgender men, people of all genders have testicles and may be interested in this procedure.

Because vasectomies do not affect your hormone levels, they’re not usually considered a part of gender-affirming care.

Trans feminine people may want to pursue a vasectomy as a part of their birth control plan. However, some recent studies are showing that HRT already renders the testicles incapable of creating sperm.

Understandably, there could be a lot of emotions that go into the decision to get a vasectomy. You could experience relief that you no longer have to worry about conceiving when you didn’t plan to.

However, you could also feel conflicted because you know you’re not going to have biological children in the future.

There aren’t a lot of studies on the short- and long-term effects of vasectomy on mental health. Many are from the 1970s and 1990s when surgical techniques were different.

What is known is that it’s important your doctor counsels you about vasectomy before undergoing the procedure. You should understand the risks and benefits.

When people do receive counseling before their procedure, they usually report a better sense of well-being than those who didn’t get counseling.

Vasectomy has not been shown to affect:

  • sexual function
  • the ability to achieve an erection and ejaculate
  • the ability to orgasm
  • libido (sexual desire)

However, it’s important to remember that vasectomy doesn’t protect you or your partners against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Getting an STI can affect your sexual health, so it’s important to still use barrier methods, like condoms, to prevent STIs.

The testicles contain sperm that travel through tubes called the vas deferens to combine with seminal fluid and be ejected through the urethra as semen.

When someone with testicles ejaculates, the penis releases seminal fluid or semen. Sperm makes up an estimated 2 to 5 percent of this fluid, which contains genetic material that could potentially fertilize an egg. The remainder of semen is fluid that has sugars, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that can help sperm reach an egg for fertilization.

A vasectomy works by cutting the vas deferens. The surgeon removes a portion of the tube so it can’t grow back together, and “tying,” sealing, or clipping the tube to further reduce the risks of growing back together. This keeps the sperm from traveling to meet with seminal fluid.

As a result, you’ll ejaculate as you normally would. Your semen just won’t have sperm in it.

Vasectomies are a highly effective birth control method, with about a 1 percent failure rate. An estimated 10 percent of couples who use contraception rely on their partner’s vasectomy as their own birth control method.

In general, anyone with testicles can be a good candidate for a vasectomy. There aren’t many contraindications to getting a vasectomy.

Sometimes, a doctor may recommend postponing the procedure if you are currently dealing with an infection or other genital condition.

Doctors may also be able to use different surgical approaches to perform a vasectomy, depending on your medical needs.

It’s important to talk with your doctor about any medical-related concerns you have. There are also some alternatives to vasectomies that you may wish to look into.

Urologists are usually the medical specialists who perform vasectomies. They can use one of two approaches to do the vasectomy:

  • traditional incision
  • scalpel-less (no incision) vasectomy

No-incision vasectomies are more commonly used. Not using any incisions has significantly reduced the complications (which were already low) of vasectomy.

People can usually return to sexual activity faster, and the procedure itself is faster.

Potential (but uncommon) complications may include:

There’s also a very small chance that the vasectomy could fail and result in an unexpected pregnancy. Be sure to talk with your doctor about these risks and ways they can minimize them before undergoing a vasectomy.

Vasectomy is a safe and effective contraception method if you don’t want to conceive children. Side effects are minimal and don’t include “male menopause,” lower testosterone, personality changes, or affected sexual function.

If you are considering a vasectomy, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits for you related to the procedure.