Vasectomy: Practice Growing in Popularity Despite Being a Taboo

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More and more young Mexicans aged 19 to 20 are turning to vasectomy as a way to avoid fatherhood, while more mature Brazilians use it as a contraceptive.

Miguel Maldonado, urologist and andrologist at the General Hospital of Mexico, told Sputnik that more and more young people who haven't had children are coming to his office.

Some of the issues that concern young Mexicans seeking to avoid paternity are the "global environment," "overpopulation," the "ecological issue," the "cost of raising a child" or  "bringing them into the world to suffer."

"Their perspective is very different; it's like a stream of young people who don't want to have children. Some of them even prefer having pets to having a family," Maldonado says.

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Given this situation, the urologist usually tries to discourage them and postpones their requests by suggesting they think the matter over. "However, there are enough doctors in private practice who agree to perform the operation," the surgeon explains.

"I have already operated on some people who have had a vasectomy without having children and they now regret it," the doctor adds.

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Vasectomy is a method of male family planning that has always been considered as definitive, although regardless of the technique used, the operation can always be reversed.

Maldonado is a specialist in "reversible vasectomy," a technique that returns fertility to those men who at some point decided to move away from fatherhood. However, in general, the procedure is considered irreversible, that's why "most of the time it is reserved for those men who already have children," he said.

"I think it's really a question of nationality and taboos that exist with respect to vasectomy. Men often associate it with impotence, thinking that they will no longer have an erection, that they lose the sensation of orgasm and won't be able to ejaculate. But all this is totally false, it's just a myth," Maldonado, who earlier specialized in male infertility at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York, commented.

The specialist explained that, compared to tubal ligation for women; it is 1,000 times less invasive. A vasectomy can be performed in a doctor's office, under local anesthesia; and if the doctor is experienced enough, a technique without using a needle and without a scalpel can take a maximum of 20 minutes.

"The men leave the hospital and go home, the complications are really laughable and when there is a complication it is usually a bruise or clot that is not serious or endangers the patient's life," the doctor says.

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Vasectomy as such is to cut a segment of the vas deferens through which the sperm travel from the testicle through the epididymis to the urethra. This vas deferens is the one that is cut and tied in an operation that is usually an outpatient procedure.

Two techniques are usually used to perform the operation. The "conventional" vasectomy is performed with a scalpel. There's also the "Fe de Lee" which is another technique that has grown in popularity over the last 15 years. It was created by a Chinese doctor and is performed with three special instruments designed for this type of operation.

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In addition, instrumental development in this field has resulted in an anesthetic technique where a needle isn't used to make the local injection. In this case, a device based on the principle of injection under pressure that manages to inject the anesthetic through the skin is used.

"This anesthetic comes out at so much pressure that it manages to penetrate six millimeters through the epidermis; with about six shots the area becomes numb, which is particularly useful in patients who have a needle phobia," the surgeon explains.

After the procedure, it's important to let the patient know that he should continue using condoms in order not to impregnate his partner because he is still fertile for a number of ejaculations, usually between 20 and 30. A semen analysis can also be performed to verify the absence of sperm.

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