At least 100 Kenyan men opted to undergo a vasectomy procedure last week as part of World Vasectomy Day. A vasectomy is a medical procedure that surgically cuts off or blocks the tubes that transport sperm from the testicles to the penis. The BBC reports that doctors performed the operations (which were streamed live to online audiences) on stage behind a curtain at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi.
Many health experts consider vasectomies to be an efficient, cost effective form of male sterilization or family planning. The 20-minute procedure only costs a fraction of a similar procedure for women (tubal ligation) and carries far less risk. The procedure is also reversible within a window of 10 years.
Men who have undergone a vasectomy experience no noticeable change in sexual and bodily function and continue to produce semen, although devoid of reproductive sperm cells.
Vasectomy vs. Castration
In many societies, people often confuse a vasectomy with castration, a totally different and more radical procedure. Castrations are often done for religious reasons and involve doctors removing the entire testicle, which affects the production of male hormones such as testosterone.
Men who have been castrated may exhibit a number of feminine characteristics including a high-pitched voice and shrunken sexual organs. Thus, a stigma is attached to the vasectomy procedure in many conservative societies where it is assumed that the man effectively loses his virility and everything that makes him a man.
Organizers of the World Vasectomy Day in Kenya saw it as an opportunity to correct some of the more prevalent misconceptions about the procedure. The event included a group of panelists who discussed “the myths and misconceptions about vasectomies.”
One of the organizers, Dr. Jack Zhang, explained that, “Many men have this perception that [a] vasectomy causes a man to turn into a woman. Some men fear that in Africa there’s a high mortality rate so they need to have more children.”
The awareness campaign appears to already be yielding results, with scores of Kenyan men, some of them still in their youth, opting in for the procedure. In commemoration of World Vasectomy Day, doctors performed the operation free of cost.