TikTok’s hottest new trend: vasectomies
Men in the United States are increasingly opting for vasectomy, following the US Supreme Court’s decision to undo federal abortion rights in June 2022. Many myths and misconceptions about vasectomy have long circulated on the Internet, which has created a negative perception of the procedure. In response, men across the country have taken to TikTok to promote vasectomies as an option for men to support women’s reproductive rights.
The contraception method popularly known as the “male pill,” has long carried a stigma. Many mistakenly believe it affects masculinity and sex drive, and that the snip is practically the same as castration.
TikTok videos have sought to dismantle myths about vasectomy. Some men have even filmed themselves getting vasectomies to help dispel misinformation.
The videos also highlight how the onus of birth control should not fall solely on women. Influencer Keith Laue, who created multiple TikTok videos about his vasectomy, said that he believed the videos were helping to fight the myths and misinformation around vasectomies.
“I do believe they [TikTok videos] are helping to fight the myths and misinformation around vasectomies. I still have testicles. Everything is normal.”
There is evidence that vasectomy rates have “significantly increased” since the Supreme Court’s decision, according to urologist Marc Goldstein from Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. Other urologists and fertility specialists have reported a multi-fold increase in vasectomies and a sharp spike in web traffic to pages offering information about the procedure, including assistant professor Katrine Wallace of the University of Illinois, Chicago.
“Many of the recent vasectomy videos on TikTok highlight the Roe vs Wade ruling as the impetus for the decision to get a vasectomy, and how the onus of birth control should not fall mostly on women.”
Many of the TikTok promoters of vasectomy are women who cheered their husbands after the surgery in viral videos. Educational videos by health experts have also been gaining traction on TikTok, correcting wrong perceptions and providing accurate information about the procedure.
The trend has helped promote accurate information about vasectomy and has been a welcome departure from the shocking amount of misinformation and hokey pseudo-medical claims. Unqualified influencers often promote health misinformation for profit.
Still, some videos about vasectomy that otherwise relayed accurate information falsely claimed that the procedure was completely reversible. In fact, the success rates of surgical reversal can be lessened by the method used and the amount of time passed since the original procedure.
New York’s University at Buffalo’s Yotam Ophir cautions that while TikTok can provide a sense of intimacy that gets through to viewers, people should have access to accurate, evidence-based information.
“While I’m glad to learn about people using their TikTok following to try and fight misinformation, I’m also worried that it might have introduced more inaccuracies and distortions. TikTok audiences often confuse fame and followers with expertise. To put our hopes on TikTok mini celebrities is to assume that they know how to identify reliable information and avoid misinformation — this seems unlikely.”
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