Despite the common use today of bilateral vasectomy as an efficacious and permanent form of contraception, the history of vasectomy demonstrates its use for other, less salutary goals. Indeed, the path to the modern use of vasectomy as a male contraceptive was marked by numerous medical, political, and moral missteps. In the late 19th century, the procedure was performed in an attempt to relieve urinary symptoms caused by prostatic growth. In the early 20th century, vasectomy was employed with the intent to restore youthful vigor. This approach was predicated on the hypothesis that vasectomy led to destruction of cells that produce sperm in the testes and an increase in cells that produce hormones. The “rejuvenation” procedure was first performed in 1918; it never became ...

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