American abortion bans boost vasectomies

pregnant mother

As more states impose restrictions on abortion, vasectomies are becoming more common, with rates surging by more than one-quarter during the past decade in the United States.

The U.S. vasectomy rate increased by 26% between 2014 and 2021, according to an analysis.

University of Chicago researchers who looked at annual insurance claims from 57 million people found that the number of procedures carried out annually between 2014 to 2021 rose by 26 percent.

“All areas in the United States except the Northeast showed increased vasectomy rates,” said senior researcher Dr. Omer Raheem. He is an assistant professor of surgery-urology with the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

Overall numbers remain low, with roughly 4% of men having undergone vasectomy, the researchers noted.

But doctors expect the demand for vasectomy will continue to increase following the 2022 Supreme Court decision that abolished the national right to abortion.

“After the Roe v Wade overturn, there has been a significant increase in Google searches for vasectomy, as well as an uptick in vasectomy consultations and procedures,” said Dr. Stanton Honig, division chief for reproductive and sexual medicine at Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, Conn.

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure to sterilize a man, in which the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles are either cut or sealed off.

“This recent study points to the fact that men are taking more of a role in reproductive health and family planning, especially when they are finished having children,” continued Honig, who was not involved with the new research.

For the study, Raheem and his colleagues gathered health insurance claims data to calculate the annual vasectomy rate among privately insured men in the United States, aged 18 to 64.

The percentage of all male patients undergoing vasectomies in a given year increased from about 0.43% in 2014 to 0.54% in 2021, the investigators found.

The relative increases were greatest in men with no children (61%), men with an older wife (41%), single men (41%), and young men 18 to 24 (37%).

Vasectomy also remained a popular option for men with two or more children, the results showed.

Rural areas experienced greater increases in vasectomy rates than urban areas, the researchers added.

“Given the political landscape, some men are leaning in and taking more responsibility to prevent unintended pregnancy,” said Dr. Monica Dragoman, system director of the complex family planning division in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

“The reasons are deeply personal and multifactorial, but motivations can include concerns for their partner and fear about having kids they don’t want,” Dragoman said. “Unfortunately, there are few highly effective methods other than vasectomy available to men.”

With abortion access now being eroded since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, some doctors say vasectomies are likely now even more popular. 

Planned Parenthood has started offering free vasectomies to young uninsured men.

Doctors suggested the rise was also possibly being driven by the procedure becoming more accessible.

It only takes around 10 minutes and can be done under local anesthetic, they said, with minimal pain to patients.

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