Vasectomy: An Easy But Neglected Form of Birth Control


You will lose
your sex drive. Your genitals will swell. You will suffer excruciating pain.
You won’t be able to get an erection or ejaculate. You won’t be a man anymore.

While it is a routine
operation—nearly 500,000 are performed in the United States every year—the
myths about vasectomies fester.

In fact, the
outpatient procedure is a simple form of birth control for men, intended to be
permanent, in which the health care provider closes or blocks the tubes that
carry sperm. This prevents sperm from leaving the body or causing pregnancy; the
body instead absorbs it. Used as birth control, vasectomies are nearly 100
percent effective.

Of course,
vasectomies are not for everyone. Particularly, they must be weighed against a
person or couple’s desire to have children in the future —considering such dire
circumstances that may intervene in one’s life, such as death or divorce. While
vasectomies can sometimes be reversed, the procedure is intended to be
permanent; reversals do not always work. Doctors warn against depending upon it
for any future change of heart.

Jason, a
38-year-old man from Turlock, California who had a vasectomy and asked that his
last name not be used, said that vasectomies seem to be shrouded in mystery for
most men.

They don’t
understand that it is virtually painless,” Jason said. “It is extremely safe. Also,
most men are extremely protective and shy about male organs, outside of being
in a sexual situation. To think that some doctor will be cutting them open and
doing stuff turns off a lot of men to the idea.”

Julius,
a 49-year-old from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, noticed a similar sort of
thinking.

“Men
always seem to cringe when vasectomies are discussed, like it would really hurt,”
Julius said. “I was in so little pain that I did have intercourse the evening
of the procedure, and there was no pain involved. I had the procedure on a
Friday, and was easily back to my desk job on Monday.”

Still,
the mystery about vasectomies persists—and it is most prevalent outside the
United States. About 43 million men around the world have undergone voluntary
sterilization—compared to 180 women who have chosen sterilization, despite the
fact that vasectomies are far simpler, safer, and more affordable than tubal
litigation. A vasectomy costs anywhere from $350 to $1,000; female
sterilization costs nearly six times as much. (Medicaid covers sterilization
for both men and women.)

“Vasectomy is
extremely rare in all but a few industrialized countries and China,” according
to “In Their Own Right,” a 2003 report from the Guttmacher Institute on the
reproductive and sexual health of men. It further reports that most men in their
forties and early fifties do not want more children. Vasectomies are most prevalent in
North America, parts of Western Europe, and China; it is nearly nonexistent in
much of Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

And yet, cued by
a tight economic outlook around the world, many people are considering
permanent birth control. Besides wanting to prevent against unexpected
pregnancies, men in precarious jobs often want to have the procedure while they
still have health insurance that covers it.

Doctors have
seen a sharp increase in the number of people inquiring about the procedure,
according to U.S. News and World Report.
An article from last March cites Dr. Marc Goldstein of Cornell Institute for
Reproductive Medicine in New York City, who estimates that he has provided
about 48 percent more vasectomy consultations than he had one year ago. CNN
reports
that the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio has seen a 50 percent jump in the
number of vasectomies that it is performing since the nadir of the recession in
Fall 2008.

There is, then,
an opportunity to dispel the myth and mystery around vasectomies as couples and
individuals begin to ask questions they might not have asked before.

While
vasectomies are becoming more common, the procedure comes in context of a
complicated history. Sterilization has been abusively applied to non-voluntary
individuals, particularly people of color. While women have been the primary
targets of this abuse, men too have suffered coerced vasectomies.

In India in the
1970s, reports of compulsory sterilization at “vasectomy camps” began to gain
notoriety around the world. Men were coerced with substantial monetary and
other incentives for having a vasectomy as part of India’s attempt to lower its
national birth rate. Government officials participated in many vasectomy camps,
lending it a troubling authority, according to the comprehensive book The Global Family Planning Revolution.
Indeed, to “persuade” men to have a vasectomy, one state withdrew public
rations for families with more than three children; another state legally
required sterilization after three children. In still another state, married
teachers with children had to be sterilized or they would lose a month’s pay.

The traumatic
legacy of this, paired with fears that the procedure inhibits virility, has
caused the unpopularity of vasectomies in that nation. A Times of India report in 2004 indicates that of the 34,000 men who
come to Delhi hospitals and clinics for advice about contraception, only 2,000
of them choose vasectomies.

Alongside the
lingering suspicion of sterilization as a tool of abuse, vasectomies also emerge
in context of the relative dearth of male birth control options. Historically,
the burden of family planning has fallen on women.

Matt Johnson
wrote in AlterNet about how his
decision to have a vasectomy was in part influenced by a desire to take responsibility
for his contraception:


All
the other common birth control methods (besides condoms and vasectomy) have one
aspect in common: They place the onus on women. Not only does our society
expect women to deal with the logistics of birth control, but these methods
also have severe physiological drawbacks, from roller-coaster hormonal changes
to intensifying menstruation cycles to weight and skin changes. Although these
methods have come a long way in a few decades, they still burden women and
their bodies. Is it any coincidence that in a male-dominated society, the
medical establishment has thus far focused on birth control methods that leave
the burden solely on women?

Having decided that I want to take an active role in birth control, a vasectomy
is fair, easy, and it confronts my privilege on this issue.

This socially conscious approach to
vasectomies also takes an environmental turn. Thomjon Borges of Somerset,
Massachusetts, said that he has “No regrets whatsoever” about having a
vasectomy. He added that, “the chance to contribute to slowing the population
growth was a plus.”

 



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  • crowepps

    Men were coerced with substantial monetary and other incentives for having a vasectomy as part of India’s attempt to lower its national birth rate.

    Giving somebody a nice pile of money to do something is ‘coercion’? LOL Apparently my boss is coercing me to work! And, please, don’t tell me that the fact they are in poverty is what creates the coercion. If they are that poor, they can’t provide for the children after they’re born. Personally, I wish we provided vasectomies for FREE in this country so everyone who wanted one could have one.

  • truth

    Contra = Against
    (Con)ception = (With)Life

    Vasectomy and all other forms of “Man-Made” attempts to prevent the transmission of life are in direct opposition of The Natural Law. It is immoral for one to physically or medically alter their ability to procreate.

    If you partake in these activities you are contributing to “The Culture of Death” and if you want to remain a “Positively Charged” human being this is ill-advised. You are hurting yourself and your spouse and statistics will tell you that divorce for Contracepting couples is much more likely. Or for those who don’t believe in Marriage – the demise of your relationship.

    “Spacing” children naturally is acceptable and in coordination with our Creator and so blessings shall abound in your Marriage and in the lives of your children. Embrace a “Culture of Life” for yourself and watch as the world beomes a more gentle, loving place. Do you dare take your “Power” and place it in the hands of your Creator?

    “If you want to get into it; you’ve got to get out of it.”

  • prochoiceferret

    I feel that it is immoral for one me to physically or medically alter their my ability to procreate.

    There, I fixed that for you. Fortunately for you, your morals still allow you to socially alter your ability to procreate, because if you refuse to use any form of protection, most women won’t want to be anywhere near you when you’re naked.

    If you partake in these activities you are contributing to "The Culture of Death" and if you want to remain a "Positively Charged" human being this is ill-advised.

    Sorry, but I like eating meat. (Wait a second… what were we talking about again?)

    You are hurting yourself and your spouse and statistics will tell you that divorce for Contracepting couples is much more likely. Or for those who don’t believe in Marriage – the demise of your relationship.

    Actually, statistics show that advocating against safe, voluntary forms of contraception is associated with misogynistic tendencies, low intelligence and sexual frustration. You might want to stop doing it, so that you don’t become another… er… statistic.

    Do you dare take your "Power" and place it in the hands of your Creator?

    Uh, no, I’ll hang on to that, thank you very much. "The Creator" already has enough power as it is.

  • crowepps

    I know that the whole idea of citing ‘natural law’ is to do an end run around the fact that all of this is actually just religious philosophy, but it’s hard for me to believe that anybody can actually post this with a straight face.  What is ‘natural’ for humans is to procreate endlessly and then let the excess population of children die from lack of resources and diseases caused by overcrowding.  Personally, I think it’s a far better idea to ‘contracept’ than it is to watch babies starve, but then, I’m one of those bleeding heart liberal Christian types who believe the purpose of religion is to make people’s lives better by relieving suffering as opposed to the conservative Christian types who promote suffering and then blame their victims for their ‘poor choices’.

  • jayn

    "Do you dare take your "Power" and place it in the hands of your Creator?"

     

    Why?  Isn’t that just avoiding responsibility, really?   A way of saying, "It’s not my fault"?  If God wanted to keep this ‘power’ you speak of, he wouldn’t have given it to me in the first place.

     

    (I also find it ironic that the RCC forbids against anything that affects the reproductive system negatively, but working to make it function better is just fine and dandy.)

  • prochoiceferret

    (I also find it ironic that the RCC forbids against anything that affects the reproductive system negatively, but working to make it function better is just fine and dandy.)

    So that’s why no one’s talking about dropping insurance coverage for Viagra!

  • crowepps

    Surely it’s only moral that men have to prove they still produce sperm before getting Viagra — after all, if they’re not fertile, then sex is just recreational and why should the taxpayers have to pay for his lifestyle choices.

     

    Although considering the way the schizophrenia rate increases as the man ages and his sperm deteriorate, perhaps for the good of the fetus men over 50 shouldn’t be assisted to continue having sex at all.

    Researchers estimate that compared to a male fathering a child in his early 20′s – there is double the chance of the child getting schizophrenia when the father is age 40, and triple the risk of schizophrenia when the father is age 50. (though, for most people this means the risk goes from approximately 1 in 121 when a man is 29, to to 1 in 47 when a man is age 50 to 54).
    http://www.schizophrenia.com/prevention/older.htm

  • princess-rot

    Truth, sweetie… "spacing children" (or NFP) is still having sex with no intent of procreating. It’s still contraception, since sex within a certain time frame will not result in conception, and this you have to physically track and plan. Much like using a condom. Wow, there’s no real moral difference, is there? Fancy that.

  • ahunt

    Bow down before the almighty phallus, you blaspheming, man-hating feminist.

    Funny how sex is a necessity for men, and a lifestyle choice for women.

  • truth

    There is a big moral difference between using what God has given us through the "Natural Order" and imposing our own methods of attempting to interrupt God’s ability to trasmit life through us. ….But let’s try and keep morals and God speak out of this because I know it is difficult for you to hear this. How about these words:

     

    1. Safety

    2. Love

    3. Self-Giving / Self-Sacrificing

    4. Accountability

     

    Safety – I don’t think I need to go through the dangers of "The Pill," just open your little compact and take a look at the excerpt there explaining all the related health risks in taking the pill. In fact, if you actually study the relatively short history of the pill you will see that the FDA actually disapproved its use for reasons noted in the lengthy excerpt found in every compact of this medication.

     

    Love – This is a misunderstood word in our post-modern culture of death. It seems that most in today’s culture define love as acceptance. What this means is that you have to accept me for who I am regardless of whether my actions are harmful to myself and/or others. For example, do you think women REALLY want to pose naked in front of a photographer for all to see? Do they really want to degrade themselves for the pleasure of "men?" Of course not, it is unnatural for anyone to "want" to be used as an "object." Truly loving someone means loving their soul and wanting the best for them; however, if their ACTIONs are harmful (such as degrading themselves) then you don’t accept this non-loving action. Ney, you would need to actually talk with them and let them know that you DO NOT accept this non-loving behavior because you do truly LOVE them. Now, this may mean that they rebel from you (for a time) but we have all seen where they will come back and thank us for truly loving them and not simply allowing them to continue to hurt themselves [sometimes, as we all know, this can take years].

     

    Self-Giving / Self-Sacrificing – This is one that is very difficult for those in the post-modern world to understand. We are so accustomed to thinking only of ourselves in this culture that I fear we have lost, almost completely, the idea of self-sacrifice. In making love to your spouse, the couple must leave open the "possibility" of creating a third new life from their "act of love" or "act of self-sacrifice" – The Pill doesn’t allow for this because it has made the women’s vaginal canal acidic, non-lubricative or prevented the walls of the uterus from "hosting" the zygote. Through this process of rendering the woman incapable of "being a woman" you’ve made her a vessel for nothing else but the pleasure of the man to be used as an object of his sexual desire solely. This is the paradox. Most women believe (because it was "sold" to them this way) that they are actually freeing themselves from the "grips of the misogynist" by making themselves less woman. This also allowed them to break away from the bondage of motherhood to go out and work alongside their arch-enemy to become EQUAL. Newsflash: Men and Women were not created equal. Women have the ability to transmit LIFE. This alone would make women MORE IMPORTANT than men! So, true love-making must include self-sacrifice and we "show" our willingness for self-sacrifice to our lover through our "openness" to procreate with them.

     

    Accountability – Any form or artificial contraception takes away Love as defined by self-sacrifice and therefore "accountability" that you will remain with your betrothed. By laying with your spouse you are making a promise or pledge that you are not going to leave them. Our souls don’t just speak in words. The spoken word is only half believed – "I love you – I will never leave you." However; it is 100% soaked into the soul when there is a defined ACTION backing up this pledge. That action is the possibility of creating a third being – a beautiful manifestation (in the flesh) of the love, self-sacrifice, and promise to remain faithful until all eternity to your sweetheart.

  • julie-watkins

    Not “difficult”, sounds like more enforcing gender & class roles to the benefit of the Status Quo/Rulers, using a lot of Catholic talking points. Here’s some of what JP II said about women. http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:onmEXQgJBuIJ:www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women_en.html+%22her+service+is+to+reign%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    the Church has many reasons for hoping that the forthcoming United Nations Conference in Beijing will bring out the full truth about women. Necessary emphasis should be placed on the “genius of women”, not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives. For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation. [emphasis in the original]

    Women, according to this theology, won’t reveal their full gifts unless they’re giving of themselves to others. I thinkg the official theology is that everyone in the congregation is supposed to be giving to others … but it seems to me that women and poor are expected to give more. I’m also continually boggled by the idea that, when the game is rigged (Nature is sexist) it’s somehow not moral to try to change the rules.

  • harry834

    WE decide our way. Nature does not force us to stand on this value or that value. WE decide which values to stand on. Some have theorized that evolution pushes our brains, as individuals and as a species, towards certain values. Empathy is suggested as one of those values. But so has violence to stop our perceived enemies. 

    But ultimately, WE decide, not our impulses or emotions, what we do and what we stand for.

  • frolicnaked

    While monetary incentives by themselves might not be coercion, the other methods mentioned definitely sound like it to me:

    one state withdrew public
    rations for families with more than three children; another state legally
    required sterilization after three children. In still another state, married
    teachers with children had to be sterilized or they would lose a month’s pay.

     Government-mandated sterilization? Docking pay? Removing food from families? I’m all for making sterilization available to everyone who wants it, but these "incentives" equal the removal of reproductive choice. 

  • frolicnaked

    Embrace a "Culture of Life" for yourself…

    I absolutely agree and do this 100%. Part of that "culture of life" for myself involves not aggravating health conditions and potentially jeopardizing my health with pregnancy at this point in time. 

     

    It’s been in line with my religion all along, but it’s nice to know that random strangers on the internet support this too. 

  • frolicnaked

    The Pill doesn’t allow for this because it has made the women’s vaginal canal acidic

    On the pill or not, a healthy vagina is naturally acidic with a pH of around 3.7-4.5. 

  • frolicnaked

    I don’t think I need to go through the dangers of "The Pill,"

    I think you do since it sounds like your explanation here is based on faulty reasoning. Most of the severe risks associated with hormonal birth control use (stroke, blood clots, other cardiovascular events) are a result of higher estrogen levels in the body. You know another time when the body experiences raised estrogen levels? Pregnancy. Because of this, it’s misleading to suggest that the pill or other hormonal contraceptive methods are unnaturally dangerous since a natural event like pregnancy can expose the body to those same conditions for risk. 

     

    Additionally, estrogen-containing hormonal contraception isn’t the only form of contraception. Can you explain your safety concerns with Depo Provera, progestin-only pills, Mirena, Implanon, male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, spermicides, intrauterine devices, fertility awareness, and withdrawal?

     

     

  • crowepps

    Sure, sure, everything is black and white, everybody’s lives ought to be identical, people who do things don’t REALLY want to do them but instead are being conned, blah, blah, blah. This screed about how civilization is declining could have been written by one of the Greek philosophers, and probably was.

    By the way, are you aware that “self-sacrifice” is a euphemism for suicide? Your assertion that all women ought to keep having babies until it kills them certainly fits.

  • katwa

    Through this process of rendering the woman incapable of “being a woman” you’ve made her a vessel for nothing else but the pleasure of the man to be used as an object of his sexual desire solely.

    Wow. You have a messed up view of sex. If a man gives a woman cunnilingus do you think that’s for his pleasure only and the woman is just a “vessel” and not really a woman?

    I don’t think I need to go through the dangers of “The Pill,”

    Of course not! Is anyone suggesting MANDATING it? I myself can’t tolerate the estrogen, either. That’s why I use Depo Vera. Yay for multiple choices!

    BTW, “natural family planning” IS birth control. It’s not the only non-chemical form, though. There is also male and female condoms, or withdrawal.

  • crowepps

    you’ve made her a vessel for nothing else but the pleasure of the man to be used as an object of his sexual desire solely.

     

    Wow. You have a messed up view of sex.

    You think? I’ve got to admit, the meme that if there isn’t going to be a baby possible then a woman is a sort of sexual urinal does lead one to wonder if anybody has ever been willing to have sex with this dude TWICE. Or once, for that matter.

  • colleen

    does lead one to wonder if anybody has ever been willing to have sex with this dude TWICE. Or once, for that matter.

     I believe there has been at least one unfortunate, "non-lubricative"  experience with someone’s vaginal canal. He appears to hold The Pill responsible for the lack of lubrication.

     

     

     

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • ahunt

    I’ve got to admit, the meme that if there isn’t going to be a baby possible then a woman is a sort of sexual urinal

    I’m appropriating this one, crowepps. You’ll get all credit of course…but just as Mellenkelly has given us “classics,” so too have you. Thanks in advance.

  • crowepps

    Feel free :D

  • princess-rot

    Gee, Truth, I’m so glad you’re here to mansplain to me how something I know more about than you ever will, since I am educated in the subject quite throughly and can actually experience it. Did nobody ever tell you about how it’s rude to assume?

    I do not think the thing that defines "woman" is the measure of how much she sacrafices for others. I also do not believe that women are moral children with no real agency or free will until its convienient for you and your ilk to insist that our supposedly non-existent free will is best spent servicing others, which is supposedly abhorrent because posing naked is servicing the male, but insisting that women exist to serve others at the expense of themselves is totally different. You’re a raging hypocrite.

     

    NFP is still not "natural", it does not occur in nature. It is something humans created to avoid procreating while still keeping the recreational part. Just like all other forms of birth control. Whine all you want, but it’s not different just because there is a higher chance you might concieve. There is a higher chance of conception with the sponge than there is with the condom, but percentages don’t make the two morally different, though they have almost the same function – preventing sperm from reaching the cervix. I don’t agree with the sect of evangelicals that practise quiverfull, but at least they are morally consistent about it and not hypocrites who insist all contraceptive sex is akin to murder or at least irresponsible, and then go and plan their families using a method designed to give them recreational sex without reoccuring pregnancy.