Not all of the attention in the potential Supreme Court overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision allowing pregnant women the freedom to choose an abortion has been from females – at the same time, record numbers of men have investigated vasectomy as a method of birth control.
Innerbody Research, one of the nation’s largest online home health and wellness guides, reported a 99-percent increase in the number of daily searches into vasectomy. The statistic was culled by reviewing Google Trends and search volume data, which revealed that the search was more popular in states like Michigan, Florida and Ohio where abortion would immediately be illegal if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade.
Other popular searches had even more online action, with a 250-percent increase in queries about the success rate of vasectomy reversal, a procedure which Jared Bieniek, MD, medical director of Hartford HealthCare Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute’s Men’s Health Center, said is highly successful.
“The success rates are not perfect, but they’re pretty high,” he said, noting that several factors impact the success rate, including the length of time between the vasectomy and reversal and the age of the man and his partner. “The shorter the interval, the more successful the reversal.”
Vasectomy is the “safest form of permanent contraception for a couple, much safer than tubal ligation,” he said, referring to a procedure that sterilizes women by severing the fallopian tubes that carry eggs for fertilization.
In men, urologists sever the vas deferens, a tube carrying sperm to potentially fertilize the egg, causing pregnancy. The procedure can be done in the doctor’s office in about 20 minutes through a small skin opening, according to Dr. Bieniek. In contrast, a vasectomy reversal takes 90 to 120 minutes and is done in an operating room.
“Microsurgery is often needed to put those severed edges back together to reconstruct the flow of sperm,” he explained.
Vasectomy reversal is often not covered by insurance, but Tallwood offers what Dr. Bieniek called “fair” cash prices for interested patients.
The recent vasectomy internet searches mirror similar activity in Texas, after a law banning nearly all abortions went into effect there last September. The Washington Post reported one practice alone notched a 15-percent increase in scheduled vasectomies.
Currently, only one in 10 men in this country have had a vasectomy, half the rate in Canada and the United Kingdom, according to a United Nations report.
“The physical, emotional and cultural burden of a pregnancy falls on women and, thus, the responsibility of pregnancy prevention has largely defaulted to women,” Dr. Bieniek said. “It’s a scientific fact, though, that 100 percent of conceived pregnancies involve a man, so we have no excuse for not being more involved in contraception.”