If you grow fat, sexually unmotivated, weak, sleepy or develop erectile dysfunction, it is not because you had a vasectomy.
Dr Charles Ochieng’, who works at Family Health Options Kenya, said vasectomy is shrouded in myths, which deter Kenyan men from opting for this family planning method, yet many desire to limit the number of children they sire.
“There’s a lot of ignorance,” said Dr Ochieng’. “Some think that after a vasectomy, a man grows big and becomes hypersomnolent- sleepy and lazy.”
He blamed the older methods of male contraception for these myths.
“In the past, people would just put ‘balls’ (testicles) on the table and then they hammer them. This backward method destroyed the source of testosterone, which creates that virility in men,” he said.
Vasectomies have evolved over time. It started with using scalpels where doctors opened the scrotum to access the vas deferens, but this traditional method had a lot of complications like bleeding, infections and swelling.
But now, the procedure is simpler and takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
Dr Ochieng’ said there is even a new advanced technique called the no-needle-no-scalpel.
“Instead of needles, we spray local anaesthesia. We access the vas deferens using special equipment called the ring clamp which grabs the vas deferens. We put a puncture through the skin and then see the vas deferens,” the doctor said.
He added that the procedure does not interfere with testosterone production, neither does it kill one’s ability to orgasm.
“This is what worries most men. Others worry that when the tubes are tied, the sperms collect and the scrotum balloons and then one day it explodes,” he said.
The procedure blocks only five per cent of fluid being released, which essentially has sperms while 95 per cent of seminal fluid will still pass through.
The cost of a vasectomy in Kenya differs. It ranges from Sh15,000 to Sh150,000. However, Dr Ochieng’ also partners with vasectomists from No Scalpel Vasectomy International to provide free sterilisation for low-income earners and the men receive a Sh2,000 stipend.
“If a man with seven children shows up and wants a vasectomy, telling him not to do hard work in the two days he is healing is telling him to go and die,” said Dr Ochieng’ explaining why they give stipends.
When preparing for vasectomy, avoid taking aspirin, which is a blood thinner. Shave at least a day before. Plan to limit rigorous jobs for two days and also avoid driving yourself back home as you may be dizzy.
Though rare, some men may have swelling, pain and infection afterwards.
However, the pain is manageable. “For the next two days after a vasectomy you might have a feeling like you have been hit by a ball while playing soccer,” said Dr Ochieng’.
Three months after a vasectomy, a test is necessary to ascertain success.
“There shouldn’t be sperms in the semen,” he said.
One in 2,000 vasectomies fail because the tubes may reconnect. Some vasectomies can be reversed, but not in Kenyan hospitals.
“That’s why we say it’s for men who have had enough children. About five per cent of people who have vasectomies regret it, especially those who have not had children,” said Dr Ochieng’.
Men who regret can opt for in-vitro fertilisation. Additionally, they could adopt children.
Dr Ochieng’ hopes more men take charge of their reproductive health.
“We have been socialised to think that family planning is just a woman’s responsibility.’’