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An Exploration of the Origins and Progress of "The Snip"

If you want to spend more time studying history but are also committed to indulging your short attention span, "History of Sex" is the program for you. It distills centuries of sexual health events, discoveries and pioneers into an easy-to-consume format that is entertaining and informative.

Our series begins with an examination of the vasectomy. "The snip," if you prefer. From its humble origins almost 200 years ago to its perch today as the preferred method of permanent male birth control, the vasectomy has enjoyed steady growth, acceptance and advancement. Were you aware the procedure can be performed without a scalpel? Well, it can. No razor-sharp cutting implements near your naughty bits? That's progress.



Vasectomies: the procedure that has done more to stop swimmers than standing on the beach and yelling "shark!" I'm Carlos O'Leary, and today's lesson is on getting the snip. Welcome to The History of Sex.

OK, let's dive into the fascinating topic of vasectomies, a medical procedure whose popularity has once again taken the world by storm. Our story begins in 1830 with observations on the structure and disease of the testes, not to be confused with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Balls. This particular book details the first ever recorded vasectomy, during which a doctor cuts the vas deferens, which are the small tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra, not on a human, but on a dog. And that was before anesthesia. Rough.

In 1853, it was revealed that a vasectomy does not, in fact, stop normal sperm production, but rather prevents the delivery of sperm during ejaculation. Let's see Amazon Prime fix that. Despite vasectomies being used in forced sterilization campaigns during the first half of the 20th century, they also began to be embraced as a procedure that could improve someone's quality of life. Famously, Sigmund Freud got one in 1923 in an attempt to treat oral cancer. Talk about a Freudian slip.

Missy Elliott famously said, "put my thing down, flip it and reverse it." And that's exactly what happened in 1938-- vasectomy reversals. The man they performed the initial procedure on eventually had children, proving vasectomies could be reversed faster than your decision to never drink again after your bestie invites you out to brunch.


Moving on, the 1940s were all about discovering the satisfactory powers of vasectomies. And by the '50s, research suggested that most men who received voluntary procedures were fans of doing so and would gladly do it again. When asked about the benefits, one participant said, "I enjoy having sex without a condom." The researchers responded by saying, "me too, bro," before giving each other fist bumps. Probably.

By 1973, vasectomies in India alone eclipsed the 7 million mark. And as the procedure's popularity grew, so did work on its progress. In 1974, Dr. Li Shunqiang of China began developing the no scalpel method of vasectomies, which cut out many of the fears surrounding the procedure.

Fast forward to the present, we're seeing a drastic uptick in requests for vasectomy procedures across the United States following the Supreme Court decision that effectively overturned Roe v Wade. Many men are seeking the procedure, despite the fact reversal operations cost as much as $10,000, on average. Man, inflation is really kicking America in the balls right now. Ouch.

For more on The History of Sex and all things sexual health, visit Giddy, the world's largest sexual health platform, at Thanks for watching, and see you next time on The History of Sex.

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