Skip to main site content.
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Virility

It’s ‘vasectomy season,’ yet far more women than men get sterilized, despite higher risk

By WITW Staff on March 29, 2019

The number of men obtaining vasectomies spikes each year during the March N.C.A.A. basketball tournament, a phenomenon that researchers say is best explained by men’s desire to be able to watch March Madness while in recovery. But even as an estimated half a million men undergo the procedure each year, estimates from the United Nations suggest that the number of women obtaining female sterilization remains double that of men — despite the fact that vasectomies are equally effective yet far less risky.

Vasectomies are a relatively simple outpatient procedure, which is why they are most doctors’ preferred choice of sterilization for couples who no longer wish to have children. Female sterilization, by comparison, is significantly more invasive, often requires general anesthesia, and carries risks of complications that include potential damage to organs near to the fallopian tubes.

Doctors say that cultural factors are almost certainly the cause of the massive discrepancy between the number of men and women seeking sterilization. Some men who spoke with the New York Times said they felt that undergoing the procedure would effectively emasculate them. Others said that the difficulty of reversing a vasectomy is an obstacle for men who worry about an unexpected breakup or death of a partner.

Dr. Anuj Khattar, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, told the Times that men cancelled or skipped appointments after expressing concern that they could lose “their virility and their ability to enjoy sex” as a result of the procedure.

“Physiologically, it doesn’t affect any of those functions,” said Khattar. “There’s just a lot of misinformation.”

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Related

Watch this woman undergo a procedure in one of India’s mass-sterilization camps

Lack of access to birth control forces Venezuelan women to turn to sterilization

Peruvian woman speaks out about the horrors of being sterilized against her will