Common myths about male contraception busted by a medical expert

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By Ms Amita Dhanu

A medical expert, reveals some of the common myths that surround contraception and reveals what to believe and what are untrue.

Family planning plays a pivotal role in the reduction of maternal mortality rates. In India, while there are many women using contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies or space out children, men continue to consider family planning as a woman”s responsibility. In the modern contraceptive mix, female sterilisations tops at almost 75% with male condoms at second, at a mere 11.7% (NFHS4). While India’s family planning programme has made great strides, it has had to also contend with myths and misconceptions, lack of information around contraceptives, and access issues.Some common myths about male contraception that need to be addressed :

Condoms make an individual unable to have an erection
A few individuals may have difficulties maintaining an erection when using condoms, yet other men mainly older persons may have trouble having an erection because of the myth that condoms can dull the excitement of having sex.

Allergy to latex is common
Allergy to latex is rare in the general population, and reports of moderate allergic reactions to condoms are very limited. Critical allergic reactions to condoms are very limited. In case of continued reaction consult a doctor

Condom use decreases or interferes with sexual pleasure
Some couples complain that condoms interfere with sexual pleasure. However, couples also use condoms as part of their foreplay. Couples usually find using a condom more satisfying since they can concentrate on their desire without the worry about unintended pregnancy and STIs. Today with various varieties are available they are designed to enhance pleasure.

Condoms cause early ejaculation
Using a male condom does not cause early ejaculation. On the contrary, condoms can assist users to maintain an erection longer and prevent premature ejaculation since there is no fear of an unwanted pregnancy.

Does vasectomy make a man lose his sexual energy or virility?
Vasectomy does not cause a man to lose the desire or sexual energy. In fact, after a vasectomy, a man will look and sense the same as before, he can have erections and sex the same as earlier. Without the risk of an unwanted pregnancy

Immediately after a vasectomy the man can have unprotected sex
No. There will still be sperms in the semen after vasectomy. While the vas deferens have been cut to prevent future sperm from forming, there will still be stored sperm that needs to come out. It is crucial that you or your partner continue to use some form of contraceptive since conception will still be possible with unprotected sex at least for the first 3 months and a minimum of at least 20 ejaculations before the semen is clear of sperm.,

Is it possible to check if a vasectomy is working?
Surely it is possible to check if a vasectomy is working, one can check if a semen sample under a microscope to detect if it still carries sperm. A semen analysis is suggested at any time after 3 months.

Vasectomy increases a man’s risk of cancer or heart disease later in life
Studies reveal that vasectomy does not develop chances of cancer of the testicles (testicular cancer) or cancer of the prostate (prostate cancer) or heart disease.

Although contraceptive options for men are limited to NSV and male condoms, these are safe,  simple, cost-effective for reversible and permanent contraception respectively.  A multi-pronged strategy of demand generation through targeted communication at the grassroots, value-clarification and capacity building of all levels of service providers to can all add up to a wider acceptance of both methods.

About the author: Ms Amita Dhanu, Assistant Secretary General, Programme Implementation, FPA India

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