Squeezing his eyes shut, a man breaks into song while filming himself getting a vasectomy -- a TikTok trend helping dispel misinformation about the procedure whose demand has soared following U.S. upheaval over abortion rights.
Men across the United States have chosen to get snipped since the Supreme Court scrapped the federal right to abortion when it overturned Roe v. Wade last June, according to multiple urologists and reproductive health experts.
Myths about vasectomy -- a contraception method popularized as the "male pill" -- have long flourished on the internet, fueling what experts describe as negative attitudes about the procedure that has often been used as a punchline for emasculating jokes.
Viral TikTok videos packed with buffoonery and mirth seek not only to demolish some of the myths, but to also promote the procedure as an option for men in solidarity with women robbed of basic reproductive rights.
Some men have gone as far as filming themselves, from the waist up, while undergoing the surgery.
"You're getting neutered" was the title of one such video by Las Vegas-based comedian Jimmy McMurrin, which garnered over five million views.
The common misconceptions include that vasectomy is akin to castration or that it affects the libido and hormonal production, said Texas-based influencer Keith Laue, who created multiple TikTok videos about his procedure.
"I do believe they (TikTok videos) are helping to fight the myths and misinformation around vasectomies," the 23-year-old told AFP. "I still have testicles. Everything is normal."
The trend stands in contrast to many others on TikTok, a platform that experts say is flooded with unqualified influencers who peddle health misinformation, including vaccine and abortion-related falsehoods, often to boost engagement and views.
"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," Katrine Wallace, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, told AFP.
There is evidence that vasectomy rates have "significantly increased" since the court ruling, urologist Marc Goldstein from the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University told AFP.
That was echoed by several other urologists and fertility specialists contacted by AFP, with many reporting a multi-fold increase in vasectomies and a sharp spike in web traffic to pages offering information about the procedure.
Vasectomy, which prevents sperm from being released into semen, typically takes only a few minutes.
Among the TikTok promoters of vasectomy, which experts say is less invasive and has a higher success rate than female sterilization methods like tubal ligation, are women.
Many cheered their husbands after they emerged from the procedure in viral videos using titles such as "Snip-Snip! Hooray!" and "Closing the baby factory."
Also gaining some traction were educational videos by health experts who corrected wrong perceptions, including that vasectomy does not cause impotence or increase the risk of prostate cancer.
The trend appeared to resonate with young people inclined to use TikTok –- a platform which allows users to speak directly into the camera, creating a sense of intimacy -- as their primary search tool even for crucial information related to health.
"From my practice, I know that people bring information into the exam room even before they see a (health) provider," Jonas Swartz, from Duke University, told AFP. "My concern is that the videos sometimes offer low quality health information. People should have access to accurate, evidence-based information. TikTok is not designed to filter that."
Several videos about vasectomy which otherwise relayed accurate information about the procedure, falsely asserted that it was completely reversible.
While surgical reversal can be attempted, its success depends on how much time has passed since the vasectomy and the method used for the original procedure, Wallace and other experts said.
"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," Yotam Ophir, from New York's University at Buffalo, told AFP.
"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."© 2023 AFP
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So I’m assuming these aren’t the same guys who were claiming vaccines cause sterility in men?
I found that really tasteless.
Mine was quite fun,as I let my mate,a general practitioner,do it,and we had a chat about the surf,and another GP wandered in to join in the conversation.
Just a wee whiff of burning rubber,and we were done in twenty minutes.God bless the NHS.
Well, nothing can be completely negative, not even tiktok. Still I find it a little suspicious that these very limited positive influences are coming up at this precise timing.
Like all the doctors and scientists who spoke out about it being dangerous but being called conspiracy nuts? Lol
Do we have to read about this filth?
This is the type of thing you’d find in a magazine on the top shelf of the newsagent. I though Tik Tok was mostly young people, they may be corrupted by this.
It ain't funny at all. I don't hear about any women celebrating getting a hysterectomy. How about just letting Mother Nature doing the job as you grow older? Of course that also means you be true to your mate. I guess that's too much to ask for in some people.
They may not realize that once it's done, it's done. At the same time, how do we even know the procedure is even happening at all? After all, in the early 60s Andy Warhol made a 'waist-up-only' video of a man supposedly having a sex act done on him. Was it real or not? Nobody truly knows.
Either way, glamorizing 'events' like this is disgusting, misleading, revolting and just plain SICKENING.
I find it funny. What's the big deal, it's a voluntary procedure, that people do because they want to. My friend who did it 20 years ago told me the other night it was one of the best decisions he ever made (I've been considering it for myself). A little light-heartedness isn't bad.
Have you asked any? In relation to the same topic, my other friend was telling me how it has improved her life as well, just the other day. She had fibroids that were painful, and now she lives pain free, and it has improved her sex life. She certainly was celebrating it.
As a young person, the idea of pregnancy is scary as you haven't established yourself in life. Then there is a period where people want pregnancy. But after that point, the idea of pregnancy becomes scary again, because the children have been born, and people are ready to wind down their life. Reproductive ability suddenly becomes not only unnecessary, it becomes downright scary and something to be avoided, forever.
At this point in life, people do celebrate these procedures, as they have no desire for reproduction anymore, and these procedures are generally done for an improvement in quality of life.
And as an improvement in life, a little 'snip-snip' humor is just fun, nothing to be angry at.