Snip, Snip, Snip and a Couple of Lah-Dee-Dahs

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 The August 2008 issue of Details magazine reports on a new “trend” in young men receiving vasectomies.  In  “The Birth-Control Extremists” Richard Morgan writes:

[L]ately, vasectomies are becoming the province of young, single men who claim to be tired of worrying about their partners’ vigilance with the Pill. So rather than use condoms:less than ideal in terms of pleasure and, compared with vasectomies, which have an estimated 1 in 2,000 failure rate, only so-so on the contraception front:they’re opting for a permanent fix. * * *  

Each one costs $2,500 and takes around seven minutes. Before the procedure, patients go through a rigorous consultation, most of which consists of warnings. Warning: You’ll have an ice pack on your balls for 24 hours. Warning: You also must wear a “scrotal supporter” for 48 hours. Warning: Your first postoperative ejaculations might be bloody. Warning: There may be heavy bruising and/or swelling. Warning: You will not be sterile right afterward; it takes 6 to 12 weeks or 15 to 20 ejaculations to clear out old sperm. Warning: According to [NY physician  Marc]  Goldstein, you should consider your new infertility  permanent.

And while the prospect of all that might be enough to deter some guys who are considering a precautionary vasectomy:even those susceptible to sneak-pregnancy hysteria:that could be about to change. According to Vincent Ciaccio, a spokesman for a social club for the child-free called No Kidding who got his vasectomy when he was 23, there are rumblings of experiments in China with a simple surgical procedure in which tubes are added to and removed from the vas deferens, which would allow for fully reversible infertility. If that happens, any perceived inequality between the genders when it comes to who’s in charge of birth control could be eliminated. Get ready for equal-opportunity irresponsibility.

The full article is available here.  

Men taking responsibility for birth control is a salutary move, but  Details author Morgan fails to mention that  condoms are  not just contraceptive devices (duh).  They are also a means to reduce or eliminate the risk that one will give (or get) a sexually-transmitted disease.  In the AZT era, are young men not concerned about HIV infection?  Genital warts, anyone?  And  will vasectomies be just another “excuse” for men to avoid condom use?  (“Don’t worry, baby, I got snipped.”)  

I must admit that I did find funny Morgan’s  description of men who are “susceptible to sneak-pregnancy hysteria,” in light of the historic diagnosis of hysteria as a uterine condition.

Thanks to Terrance DeRosa for bringing the Details article to my attention.

-Bridget Crawford

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