With eyes half closed, the man begins to sing while filming a vasectomy: On TikTok, more and more videos are fighting against misinformation about the contraceptive procedure, which has become increasingly popular in the United States since the Supreme Court criticized the right to abortion.
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Myths about it have long circulated on the Internet, with even vasectomy linked to jokes about supposed castration.
The now-viral TikTok videos use humor to deconstruct these urban legends, with some users even filming themselves in the middle of the process in order to minimize the drama, like stand-up comedian Jimmy McMurrin, which has amassed more than 5 million views.
Among the most common mistakes, for example, is the idea that a vasectomy would amount to castration, or that it would affect libido or hormone production, explains influencer Keith Lau, who filmed several videos about his surgical procedure.
“I am convinced that (these videos) help fight myths about vasectomies,” the 23-year-old told AFP.
“I still have my testicles. Everything is normal.”
We are closing the baby factory.
On TikTok, which is used to influencers with little or no qualifications who spread falsehoods, especially about vaccines and abortion, this trend is out of the ordinary.
“Several recent TikTok vasectomies videos indicate that the ruling in Roe v. Wade was decisive in the decision to use it and that the responsibility for contraceptives should not lie primarily with women,” explains Catherine Wallace, PhD, of the University of Illinois in Chicago.
The rate of vasectomies has risen dramatically across the country since the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the right to abortion, said the judge with AFP urologist Mark Goldstein, of Cornell University College of Medicine.
This observation, shared by several of his colleagues contacted by AFP, is reinforced by a rise in internet traffic to sites providing information on the subject.
On TikTok, users in viral videos are applauding their spouses who have chosen to resort to this surgical procedure: “We’re shutting down the baby factory!”
And some health experts offer educational videos that gain clarity by attacking many myths, including those that claim—incorrectly—that vasectomy causes ED or increases the risk of prostate cancer.
However, the trend, which could benefit young people, who are very fond of this app for viral videos, has risks.
“I am concerned that the videos sometimes provide bad health information,” Jonas Schwartz of Duke University Medical Center told AFP. People should have access to accurate and factual information. TikTok is not designed to do this sorting.
Several videos on the subject, for example, wrongly asserted that the process was completely reversible. In fact, a return can be attempted, but the success of the operation depends on several factors such as the time elapsed since the vasectomy and the method used.
“While I’m glad people are fighting misinformation with their TikTok followers, I’m afraid it will increase inaccuracy,” said Yotam Ofir, a professor of communications at the University at Buffalo.
TikTok users often confuse fame with number of followers and experience. Placing our hopes on TikTok mini-stars is like assuming they know how to identify reliable information and avoid misinformation — and that seems unlikely.”
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