More Men Are Suddenly Getting Vasectomies?
Ever since last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade, some doctors are reporting a growing number of requests for vasectomies from their male patients. Restrictions on abortions seem to have prompted many men to rethink their own reproductive health decisions and responsibilities. Some vasectomy providers have even reported their number of patients doubling since the landmark court decision.
A vasectomy is a permanent sterilization procedure that cuts and seals the vas deferens or the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles into the glands that make seminal fluid. The procedure keeps sperm from being released, thus blocking them from reaching a female’s egg. Vasectomies are nearly 100% effective at preventing pregnancy.
According to Mayo Clinic, vasectomies are far less complicated than female sterilization or abortion. A vasectomy is performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient clinic and has a low risk of complications or side effects. The procedure only takes about ten minutes and is significantly less expensive than female sterilization.
In states like Missouri, where abortion became illegal, Planned Parenthood clinics have switched to providing vasectomies instead of abortions. According to NPR, one Planned Parenthood in St. Louis recently offered a free vasectomy clinic at three different locations over three days. Patients without insurance would normally pay up to $1,000 to have the procedure at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Dr. Esgar Guarín, an Iowa-based vasectomy provider, assisted with the free Missouri clinic. “What has happened is that since Roe v. Wade was overturned, many men have realized that they perhaps have been absent in contraception, particularly in contraceptive decisions,” says Guarín. His own practice saw the number of procedure requests double between June and July 2022.
Dr. Guarín says that his recent patients have included younger men in their 30s and many couples. A spokesperson with the American Urological Association told NPR that providers nationwide have anecdotally reported witnessing an increased demand for vasectomies since the Supreme Court’s decision. National data is not yet available, however.
In New York, Dr. Meera Shah is experiencing the same surge in requests for vasectomies. The chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic said it reflects a mindset shift. “They’ve been thinking about getting it for a really long time, and then what’s happening in this country has motivated them that much more to get the vasectomy,” Shah said.
Men considering their reproductive health decisions and responsibilities should be certain that they do not want to father children before going through with a vasectomy. Although vasectomies can be reversed, pregnancy afterward is not guaranteed. Mayo Clinic reports that pregnancy rates after reversals range from about 30% to over 90%, depending on the type of procedure, how long ago the vasectomy was performed, and the female partner’s age.
Dr. Shah makes sure to tell candidates that they should not undergo a vasectomy without understanding its potential permanency. “If somebody is going into a vasectomy saying, ‘Oh, it can be reversed,’ then I say that they may not be a candidate for it,” said Shah. Some of Shah’s patients have chosen to freeze their sperm before having their vasectomies.
Though storing frozen sperm costs hundreds of dollars a year, it can be a way to keep fatherhood options open in the future. But it’s also not a guarantee of being able to have a child later in life. According to Hopkins Medicine, one-half to two-thirds of sperm may not survive the freeze-thaw cycle but the ones that do may be more likely to result in pregnancy via in-vitro fertilization, or IVF.