Vasectomies: A "Minor Surgery With A Major Image Problem"

One side effect of the recession? More men are getting vasectomies, reports USA Today. While this makes total sense, many wonder: why is it only now that this safe and infallible form of birth control is catching on?

Unfortunately, the vasectomy is hard to sell, according to doctors. Many men, like Michael Lewis, author of Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, view the procedure as somewhat akin to castration. Lewis says his own vasectomy made him feel like a "traitor to [his] sex." Despite the fact that the vasectomy is a safer, simpler process than female sterilization, more women undergo sterilization surgery than men (half of women using birth control ages 40-44 had had their tubes tied, while only 20% of men that age have). It seems that the vasectomy has a real PR problem.

"Traditionally, the burden has fallen on the woman," says Lawrence Ross, professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Charles Wilson, founder of The Vasectomy Clinic in Seattle, agrees: "We've had a long-term struggle trying to sell vasectomy." The doctors offer several reasons they believe men avoid the simple procedure. Wilson suggests that men are less comfortable with medical procedures in general than women are, and men are especially uncomfortable with doctors near their dicks (duh). Ross adds the third reason:

Myths about vasectomy persist. The biggest, doctors say, is that it will lower testosterone levels and affect sexual function and desire. "We still spend a lot of time explaining that there is absolutely no effect on sexual function or libido," Ross says.

But the good news for all the women out there who aren't planning on pregnancy is that as everyone goes broke, men are becoming much more willing to be voluntarily "gelded," as Lewis puts it. Wilson says he has been preforming as many as 140 vasectomies a month, up from 100 in the last few years. However, he does not believe that the increase reflects a long-term shift. He believes that most men getting the procedure would have done it anyway, but have been spurred into action by the drooping economy.

A 'Long-Term Struggle To Sell Vasectomy' [USA Today]