Why Don’t More American Men Get Vasectomies?


“They gave me a form and I guess I just kind of skimmed through it, you know, without digging too deep into what could happen,” she said. “If I knew then what I knew now, I feel like I would have pushed for him to get a vasectomy.”

Unlike vasectomy, which is a quick outpatient procedure to cut and seal the tubes that carry sperm and block the transfer of sperm to the ejaculate, tubal ligation is far more invasive and often conducted under general anesthesia. The surgery, which involves cutting or blocking the fallopian tubes, carries higher rates of complications, including damage to surrounding organs, said Dr. Holly Bullock, an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson.

The procedure does have its benefits, however.

“It is immediately effective and can be completely her decision that does not rely upon a partner’s follow-through to get the procedure and the follow-up post-vasectomy semen analysis to prove that it was effective,” Dr. Bullock said.

Tubal ligation may even reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, particularly among women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, according to the American Cancer Society. And removing both fallopian tubes entirely, a procedure called salpingectomy, is thought to reduce the risk even more, Dr. Bullock said. That’s because doctors now believe that some ovarian cancers originate in the cells of the tubes.

But, she added, she recommends vasectomy to patients who are exploring permanent options.

Marco Cabrera, 38, a father of two in Traverse City, Mich., who had a vasectomy in 2016, said, “I feel like this is one place where men need to quote-unquote man up,” adding that he knew men who had refused to get vasectomies, insisting that their wives undergo sterilization instead.

“I’m just really unimpressed with some of the men I meet,” he said.

Despite having had complications after the surgery, “I still think the vasectomy was worth it,” he said. “I don’t have to worry anymore. I know I’ve done my part.”


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