Can having a vasectomy damage your relationship?

The vasectomy procedure has had a long, interesting and at times tumultuous history. First invented by Sir Astley Paston Cooper in the 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the vasectomy started to become popular as a method of birth control.

This popularisation begot a slew of research and newspaper articles discussing the potentially negative psychological effects of undergoing a vasectomy. Leading many couples to ask the question: ‘Could having a vasectomy negatively impact our relationship?’

What the science says

Despite some initially negative studies, the consensus is that having a vasectomy does not negatively impact a relationship. Reversal rates are incredibly low, with some research suggesting that only 3% of men opt to have the procedure reversed.

In 1979, one study in the British Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at 145 random couples and assessed their quality of marriage at the point of vasectomy and then again 18 months after the procedure. The study found that ‘the majority of marriages improved in quality following vasectomy.’ Furthermore, the researchers identified that this pattern was true for healthy relationships ‘in all age groups.’

Statistics can be confusing

If I were to tell you that 33% of married men that undergo the vasectomy procedure go on to get divorced you would probably be shocked. However, that number is actually the national average in Australia. Divorces are unfortunately commonplace in Australia, which is one reason that it may be easy to make an association between divorce and vasectomies.

What’s more, research indicates that couples that go on to separate after a vasectomy were already experiencing marital difficulties. Vasectomies do not cause relational difficulties, quite the opposite. However, having a vasectomy is not guaranteed to resolve outstanding points of difference and the couple may go on to separate despite the benefits that the procedure can bring.

This article was reviewed by Dr Suman Musku

A UK-trained enthusiastic GP with 14 years’ experience. Dr Suman Musku has been working as a GP for several years and enjoys being a Generalist. His Membership in surgery and hospital rotations has allowed him to competently practice and manage Chronic Disease conditions and surgical problems.

His clinical interests include men’s health (vasectomies), dermatology and minor surgical procedures. Dr Suman has a passion towards teaching and has students from Melbourne Medical School. He holds high regards to communication skills and is appreciative of social/psychological factors involved in a patient’s life. “My aim is to strive towards providing exceptional standard of care to my patients”.