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The Big Snip: How Does a Vasectomy Actually Affect Your Sex Life?

The Big Snip: How Does a Vasectomy Actually Affect Your Sex Life?: © Patrick Pleul / dpa / Corbis

© Patrick Pleul / dpa / Corbis

Researchers estimate that over 500,000 vasectomies are performed each year in the United States. That may sound like a lot, but vasectomies are actually a highly underutilized form of birth control, especially when you consider that an estimated 2-3 times as many American women get their tubes tied each year.

This gender difference is interesting in light of the fact that vasectomies are extremely effective at preventing unintended pregnancies. There is very little risk of complications. You can leave your condoms in the drawer (assuming you’re completely monogamous, of course). And most insurance plans fully cover the procedure. So why aren’t more guys going under the knife?

There are obviously many contributing factors (e.g., uncertainty about wanting to have kids, fears of being seen as “less of a man,” worries about pain and discomfort); however, concerns about sexual potency appear to be the single biggest thing holding men back. The American Urological Association reports that men are often concerned that vasectomies will lead to one or more of the following: “erectile dysfunction, reduced or absent orgasmic sensation, decreased ejaculate volume, reduced sexual interest, decreased genital sensation and/or diminished sexual pleasure.”

In other words, a lot of guys are worried that by “devenomizing the snake,” they’re going to hurt their sexual performance. However, a growing body of research has found that such concerns are unfounded. In fact, following a vasectomy, not only are guys reporting more sex, but they are often happier with their sex lives—and their female partners are, too.

Consider this: in a brand new study just published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers compared the sexual frequencies of men who had either undergone a vasectomy or not, pulling the data from a nationally representative U.S. survey. In total, 5,838 men aged 25-45 were studied, of whom 353 had a vasectomy.

The results revealed that vasectomized men were having sexual intercourse an average of 5.9 times per month, compared to 4.9 for men who did not have the procedure. In addition, whereas just 6 percent of vasectomized men reported no sex at all in the last month, reports of no sex were much more common (15%) among non-vasectomized guys.

Beyond getting more action, getting a vasectomy is linked to a number of other positive outcomes. For instance, in a 2005 study that looked at 64 Brazilian men pre- and post-vasectomy, researchers found that vasectomized men showed a small but statistically significant improvement in both erectile functioning and sexual satisfaction after the procedure.

Men aren’t the only ones who are more sexually satisfied following a vasectomy, though. In a 2014 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers had 76 heterosexual couples fill out a survey before and after the man had a vasectomy. What they found was that women reported not only more sexual satisfaction, but also improvements in sexual desire, arousal, orgasm and vaginal lubrication.

In that same study, 96 percent of the women and 93 percent of the men said that they would make the same choice again and recommend vasectomies to others.

So what accounts for the positive changes in male and female sexual satisfaction and functioning following the procedure? There are probably a few factors at play here. For one thing, a vasectomy may allow sex to occur more spontaneously because there is no longer a need to plan it around a birth control routine. In addition, it alleviates fear and anxiety about contraceptive failure and unintended pregnancy. There’s also the possibility that those in monogamous relationships simply prefer the sensations of condom-less sex.

Contrary to the widely shared concern that vasectomies hurt men’s sex lives, a lot of research points in the opposite direction—in fact, should you decide to opt for a vasectomy, you might very well find that you and your partner are not only having more frequent sex, but more satisfying sex too.


Justin Lehmiller, PhD is a sex educator and researcher at Ball State University and author of the blog Sex and Psychology. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLehmiller.


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