Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022

Explained: How Abortion Bans Are Leading Men To Vasectomies And What Are Male Birth Control Options

Men are going for vasectomies after the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe Vs Wade verdict to avoid a pregnancy's possibility in absence of abortion or female contraceptives.

Representative image for doctor's performing a surgical procedure
Representative image for doctor's performing a surgical procedure

A leading American urologist has said requests from men for vasectomies have more than tripled since the US Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe Vs Wade verdict that provided federal constitutional protection to abortion. 

A vasectomy prevents sperm from being discharged at the time of ejaculation. It is one of the most effective birth control measures, according to Healthline.

People have also said that they are going for vasectomies after Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in an opinion that the Supreme Court should also reconsider earlier verdicts allowing contraception rights. Thomas is among the conservative judges who overturned Roe Vs Wade verdict. 

Here we explain birth control options for men, the impact of American abortion bans on men, and how people are rushing for vasectomies.

Why are men rushing for vasectomies?

Doug Stein, called "Vasectomy King" in America, told The Washington Post that he is now getting 12-18 requests a day, whereas he would get four-five requests a day earlier.

Another urologist, Philip Werthman, said there is a "300-400 per cent" increase in the number of vasectomy consultations he has performed.

The idea behind this is that as abortions become difficult to access amid bans in American states, men are going for measures that don't leave the possibility of their partners getting pregnancy. Moreover, as opposed to birth control pills that women take regularly, a vasectomy is a one-time measure.

Eric Nisi, who got a vasectomy after the Supreme Court decision, told The Post that he does not want his girlfriend to "stress over getting pregnant" because of a potential lack of access to birth control in the future. 

Men have also said that pregnancy is not just an issue for women, but for their male partners too. 

Jerald Stiedaman told NBC News, "I am married, and we are done having children. However, while I don't plan on having more children, I don't want to ever have it be possible to cause a pregnancy in the future, ever again. Men are part of the pregnancy equation, and we have to take responsibility."

Another man said, "My thinking was that I'd be a pretty terrible husband if I was okay with making my wife bear the sole burden for an issue affecting both of us, especially considering for me to make good only requires a small outpatient procedure."

What are vasectomies?

In vasectomy, a duct that carries sperm —called vas deferens— is cut or blocked in men, which means no sperm would be ejaculated. It's a one-time minor surgical procedure, which is the main benefit as it does away with the requirement of regular birth control pills for women. 

However, there are some caveats with the procedure. There is a very small chance that pregnancies might still occur and vasectomies are not immediately effective.

The risk of pregnancy after vasectomy is approximately 1 in 2,000 for men, according to American Urological Association.

Healthline reports that you shouldn't assume it's effective until your doctor tells you.

It says, "Another important fact about vasectomy is that it isn’t immediately effective. Existing sperm need to clear out of your system before having sex without a barrier method. This can take up to three months, which is why it's important to follow up with your urologist to check on sperm counts as time goes on."

Other birth control options for men

There are other birth control measures for men besides vasectomies and condoms. One downside, however, is that measures for men are permanent —like a vasectomy— or with longer effects.

These measures are:

1. Keeping male hormones in check

There are monthly or weekly injections that reduce sperm count and prevent pregnancy. But they are not very effective as per studies, according to WebMD.

There is also a gel that's applied on skin, which is combination of Nestorone (NES) and testosterone (T). It's absorbed and it prevents sperm-formation, according to WebMD.

2. RISUG — under development

There is another way that's under development. It's called RISUG — Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance.

In this, the duct carrying sperm is injected with a chemical that blocks it and destroys any sperm that touches it. It can be reversed as the doctor can wash out the remaining chemical with another chemical when you decide that you don't need it, according to Web MD.

There has also been research on male birth control pills, but there are no such pills available for public at the moment, according to Healthline.