The recent Supreme Court ruling has upset family planning efforts for millions of Americans. But nothing stops men from getting a vasectomy when they and their partner want to prevent future pregnancies.
Men often express horror and revulsion at the idea but the procedure is much less debilitating than childbirth and carries almost no risk of mortality.
While there may still be religious objections from those who argue that it’s not nice to tamper with Mother Nature, the procedure is readily available and completely legal for mentally competent adult patients.
It’s also experiencing an uptick around the country, according to recent news reports. In Ohio, where abortions are now prohibited after six weeks into pregnancy, the Cleveland Clinic went from lining up three or four vasectomies a day to 90, Bloomberg reports. In Des Moines, Iowa, a urologist who had been performing 40 to 50 vasectomies a month had 20 men sign up in a single weekend.
Planned Parenthood, which provides vasectomies in some of its clinics, said web traffic on a page explaining how to receive a sterilization procedure increased over 2,200% in the days following the court’s ruling.
A simple procedure
Vasectomy involves cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. It has a low risk of problems and can usually be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia.
It’s important to note that while vasectomy is a highly effective form of birth control, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. You still need a condom or other barrier device for that.
The cost, recovery time and risk are far less than for tubal ligation, a surgical form of birth control for women. Vasectomy is also reversible in most cases, although men should not get the procedure unless they and their parents are certain they do not want any future pregnancies.
Older men have sometimes avoided the procedure because of concerns they might want to start another family with a new spouse. But a 2020 study from Keck Medicine of USC published in Urology shows that men over 50 who undergo a vasectomy reversal had the same rate of pregnancy with their partners as their younger counterparts.
“These results are exciting for men looking to start families later in life who have had a vasectomy,” said Mary Samplaski, MD, a male infertility specialist with Keck Medicine and the lead investigator of the study. “This research is especially timely because anecdotally, fertility doctors are seeing an increase in the number of men interested in vasectomy reversals as couples focus on family planning during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Younger men seeking vasectomies
There’s also evidence from media reports that interest in the procedure is growing among younger men. In Australia, there’s been close to a 20 per cent increase in the number of childless men under 30 requesting vasectomies, according to SBS News.
“It’s getting to the point where once or twice a year we have a list where half the men getting vasectomies are childless,” said Dr. Justin Low, in the SBS report.
In New York, Thomas Figueroa, 27, knew he never wanted children, but got the motivation he needed to get the procedure after the Supreme Court ruling was handed down.
“It is something I put on the back burner of my mind until very recently, when the Supreme Court decision happened,” Figueroa told the New York Post. “That was basically the triggering factor right there. It pushed my mind to say: ‘Okay, I really do not want children. I’m going to get this vasectomy now.’”
Planned Parenthood has more information about vasectomy on its website, which also has a national directory of centers performing the procedure.
You can learn more about the procedure on the Mayo Clinic site.