It’s World Vasectomy Day, and procedures are being live-streamed from Times Square to help start a conversation about family planning
When it comes to family planning, an unfair amount of responsibility often falls on women. From hormone-filled birth control pills to inserted devices like IUDs and implants, women are expected to undergo treatments that are invasive and can have life-altering side effects if they want to avoid unintended pregnancies. Today is World Vasectomy Day, and organizers of the annual event want to start a new conversation around family planning, with men at the center.
This year’s World Vasectomy Day is getting headlines for what is admittedly something of a gimmick: Organizers are live-streaming a 24-hour global vasectomy-athon from Times Square in New York City. But they have a more important goal: To start conversations about the role men can (and should) play in preventing unwanted pregnancies. For example, they say that women are twice as likely to get tubal ligation than men are to get vasectomies, even though it is more invasive, riskier, and more costly.
The facts back that up. A tubal ligation involves cutting through the abdominal wall and closing off the fallopian tubes, generally by cutting and tying them, clamping them, cauterizing them, or closed with a clip, band, or ring. The procedure is complex, and requires the patient to go under general anesthesia. After a tubal ligation, a woman will spend a minimum of several hours in the hospital, but may stay longer. After she returns home, she can expect symptoms like shoulder pain, sore throat, bloating, and vaginal bleeding for around a week, and then she should avoid physical activity and heavy lifting for three weeks.
A vasectomy, on the other hand, involves sealing one or both ends of the vas deferens so sperm cannot get through. It can be done under twilight anesthesia if the patient requests it, but most often, just the immediate area is numbed. After receiving a vasectomy, which takes about 15 minutes, a man can go home immediately and resume his normal life, though he may need over-the-counter painkillers to combat mild discomfort for a day or two.
When comparing those two procedures, it’s clear which one is easier and less dangerous: A vasectomy. So why do twice as many women get tubal ligations?
It’s time for men to play a more active role in sexual health and family planning. On this World Vasectomy Day, it’s time for men to step up and share equal responsibility with their wives and sexual partners. To find a provider near you, visit the World Vasectomy Day provider directory — and while you’re there, be sure to take advantage of all the other resources organizers have compiled for learning about and promoting safe vasectomies. Happy World Vasectomy Day!