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Men Sharing Contraceptive Burden by Opting for Vasectomy

By September 20, 2010News

Vasectomy is seen by many men as a way to share the contraceptive burden in their relationship, according to research carried out by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA).

Vasectomy photoThe IFPA carried out the first vasectomy in Ireland in 1973, at a time when other forms of contraception were banned, offering couples a permanent method of avoiding unwanted pregnancies. Since then, the IFPA has carried out over 10,000 vasectomies.

Today vasectomy is regarded as a safe, convenient and effective permanent method of contraception, which is popular for men who want to share the contraceptive burden in their relationship, or want to take control of their own fertility.

A 2010 survey of 328 vasectomy clients from IFPA clinics over a period of 20 years paints an interesting picture of the profile and motivations of men who have had the procedure. The survey looks at three periods: 1990/1991, 1998/1999 and 2007/2008. During this time over 3,000 vasectomies were carried out by the IFPA.

The survey indicated that vasectomy is most popular among couples in their thirties who are in a stable relationship with two or three children and who are sure they do not want any more children.

IFPA Medical Director Caitriona Henchion said: “Vasectomy is seen by many men as a way of removing the contraceptive burden from their partner when their family is complete. Up to that point, the woman has borne the children and had to take the contraceptive initiative and now that their family is complete they welcome the opportunity for the male to play his part."

“Vasectomy is an ideal method of permanent contraception for men or couples who want to enjoy sex without fear of pregnancy. It has become a very acceptable choice thanks to some brave men who broke the taboo and spoke about their own experiences of vasectomy such has the recently deceased broadcaster Gerry Ryan.”

Main Survey Findings:

  • Client profile: The same profile of client were opting for vasectomy in 2008 as in 1990 – men in a stable relationship (average relationship length 11.5 years) with two to three children.
  • Reasons: Men were opting for vasectomy for the same reasons in 2008 as they did in 1990 – because their family is complete or they feel they can’t cope with more children.
  • Age: The profile of vasectomy clients has changed very little since 1990. The average age of vasectomy clients in 1990/1991 was 36, in 1998/1999 it was 38 and 39.6 in 2007/2008. There has also been little change of the age of partner in this period, with the average age of partners at 34.
  • Single men: The number of single men opting for vasectomy has seen an upward trend in this period. In the 1990/1991 period, IFPA clinics had no vasectomy clients who described themselves as single. By 1998/1999, 2% of clients described themselves as single, increasing to 8% in 2007/2008. All these single men were already fathers.
  • Contraceptive burden: For many men, vasectomy is seen as a way to take on the contraceptive burden when their family is complete.
  • Cost: The one-time cost of vasectomy (€500) compares very favourably with the outlay involved in other forms of contraception. Yearly costs for use of the contraceptive pill range from €160 to €244 and use of the Mirena Coil costs €66 every year. For a single man aged 40, assuming fertility up to the age of 70, the yearly cost of a vasectomy works out at around €17 a year. For a couple, assuming female fertility up to the age of 50, the yearly cost of vasectomy is €31.
  • Other forms of contraception: Another trend is an increase in the range of contraception methods used before opting for vasectomy. It is interesting to note that there has been a definite increase in the use of the oral contraceptive pill, IUDs (intrauterine devices) and a decrease in dependence on condoms among couples who opt for vasectomy, reflecting the increased access to contraception and the availability of better quality IUDs, including the advent of the Mirena coil in the late 1990s.

About Vasectomy

Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that seals the tubes which carry the sperm from your testicles to your penis. The operation is carried out under local anaesthetic and takes about 10 minutes to complete. After the operation you will still be able to ejaculate, but your semen will no longer contain any sperm so you cannot make your partner pregnant. The sperm in your testicles are naturally reabsorbed back into the body and do not build up. Two follow-up tests are required to confirm the absence of sperm in your semen.

  • Vasectomy is the most effective method of contraception with a failure rate of one in 2,000.
  • Vasectomy will not affect your ejaculation volume, virility, libido or testosterone levels or your masculinity.
  • Vasectomy involves far less risks than female sterilisation.
  • The one-time cost of vasectomy is much less than the repeat cost of other modern forms of long-term contraception.
  • It is a permanent one-time method of contraception suitable for couples or men who want to enjoy sex without fear of pregnancy.

For more information on Vasectomy see here.