The link between vasectomies and depression

Before a vasectomy, you’re likely to have many different questions about what to expect: Is it a painful procedure? How long does recovery take after surgery? Are there any side effects?

While many people are primarily concerned with the physical consequences, it is important to consider mental health as well. Corresponding researchMental health complications, such as depression, can occur after vasectomy—and are more common in people with pre-existing mental illness or marital problems and inadequate pre-procedure counseling.

In particular, the researchers studied a 30-year-old patient who had been married for seven years and who reported feelings of sadness and fatigue. As recently as four years earlier, he had depressive symptoms after undergoing a vasectomy. The patient’s family did not support the procedure for health and safety reasons, nor did he receive prior consultation from his doctor.

Previous research suggests that there are numerous risk factors for mental morbidity after vasectomy, which include pre-existing marital and sexual difficulties, pre-existing mental illness, and a negative perspective on the health effects of the procedure. Some of these factors were present in the patient.

Researchers concluded that adequate screening of candidates for vasectomy and counseling can reduce the risk of psychological complications.

“Regrets can lead to depression after vasectomy. Even if you have children, you may feel sad that your ability to father a child has ended. If you’ve never had children, that decision can make things more final,” she says dr Sanam Hafeez, New York neuropsychologist Director of Comprehend the Mind. “If you were pushed into the procedure by a partner, it can make a man more prone to depression and potential relationship problems due to resentment.”

Just as some women feel sad about menopause, some men feel less masculine because of their inability to father a child. Wrestling with different emotions about the procedure can lead to different levels of depression, which are influenced by whether someone has a depressed personality to begin with and how ambivalent they were about the surgery, adds Dr. Hafeez added.

Also See: 21 Things You Should Never Say To Someone With Depression (And What To Say Instead)

Gail Saltz MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and host of the How can I help? Podcast by iHeartRadio, agrees. If you get depressed after a vasectomy, it may be coincidental, but it’s also true that this procedure has great psychological implications for many men.

It can mean a loss of masculinity, the ability to reproduce, the hope of immortality through offspring, the imagined children of the future, and there can be an unexpected sense of their overall masculinity, says Dr. Saltz. These perceived losses can trigger grief, sadness, and anxiety that can lead to depression.

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Risk factors for psychological problems after vasectomy

If someone suffers from anxiety disorders or depression, they may be more prone to post-operative depression than someone who does not have these problems. Going into the process without being armed with all the facts is a risk factor for depression.

If you have a life partner, this should be a decision that will be discussed over time by weighing the pros and cons. It should never be an impulsive decision, says Dr. hafeez A urologist should be able to talk to a patient about the emotions men feel before and after surgery. Just as women shouldn’t change their bodies to please a man, a man must make that decision with 100% conviction that it’s what he wants.

Ambiguous and conflicting feelings about the procedure could also lead to increased negative feelings afterwards, explains Dr. Saltz. Arguments and sexual dysfunction contribute to stress and the kind of stress that can contribute to the development of depression.

Minimizing the risk of depression after vasectomy

Some men experience loss and sadness at not being able to impregnate a woman. Anger and resentment are likely to follow if pressed into a decision. Speaking to a urologist and understanding the physical and mental effects of the procedure is a must, explains Dr. hafeez

Talking to other men of a similar age and background can also be beneficial. A man should also be sure that this is what he wants and that he is not doing it to appease a partner.

When in doubt, advice should be sought before a man embarks on the procedure, explains Dr. hafeez If all “safeguards” have been taken prior to a vasectomy and a man is feeling depressed, he should seek the help of a licensed psychiatrist.

A more thorough understanding of all feelings about the procedure and time to resolve internal conflicts about it could mean psychotherapy, explains Dr. Saltz.

After that, it’s important to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of depression so that they can be treated medically before more serious depression develops. As with all major life stressors, support from a partner is important.

Next: Here’s what “medical gaslighting” means — and how to know if you’re a victim

Sources

  • Journal of Mental Illness: “Post-vasectomy depression: A case report and literature review”
  • dr Sanam HafeezNYC Neuropsychologist Director of Comprehend the Mind
  • Gail Saltz MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry The New York Presbyterian Hospital and host of the “How can I help?” Podcast by iHeartRadio

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