Thursday, November 19, 2020

Healthy Habits: World Vasectomy Day

About 45 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. and worldwide are unintended. Although vasectomy is one of the most reliable permanent birth control options and the only one for men, there is still much resistance. Even though vasectomy costs on average one-fifth as much as tubal ligation and does not require general anesthesia or hospitalization, women rely on their partner's vasectomy for contraception at only about one-third the rate that they rely on tubal ligation for themselves, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

To pave the way for the eighth annual World Vasectomy Day (WVD), two men will undergo vasectomies in real time--via Zoom--and talk about their procedures. WVD, to be observed in some 30 countries on Nov. 20 with a vasectomy-athon live on Facebook, aims to raise awareness of the ease and safety of the procedure, increase access to it and encourage men to play a bigger role in family planning. The Zoom press conference will originate from Tampa, FL and Boston, MA, where WVD co-founder Doug Stein, MD, and Sarah Miller, MD, will perform the live procedures and discuss this year's target of 1,000 physicians performing 10,000 vasectomies globally.

"Our goal is to demystify vasectomy," said WVD co-founder Jonathan Stack, an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker. "It is not castration--still a widely held myth--men don't lose their sex drive or potency and it is safer, more reliable and more effective than tubal ligation, it takes about 10 minutes and men report little pain. Our larger aims are to increase access to vasectomy and foster positive masculinity, especially with the pandemic's rise of domestic violence."

WVD organizers are looking for one thousand American men to rise up by participating in the event's global vasectomy-athon (November 14-21) as an act of love for their partners, their families and our shared future. On Nov. 20, visitors to WVD's Facebook page will see men from Des Moines to Nairobi undergoing vasectomies around the clock and be able to ask doctors and patients questions.

At the Zoom press conference, Stack and Stein, a urologist who has performed more vasectomies than any other U.S. physician (45,000 since 2000), will announce WVD’s activities in addition to the vasectomy-athon: the world's first global vasectomy training academy, the WVD Vasectomy Academy, to be launched online in 2021; a mobile vasectomy clinic debuting on WVD before launching an Iowa road trip in December; a global directory of vasectomy providers; and a global symposium for reproductive health professionals. Stein's chief motivation for WVD is population stabilization and climate concerns but he notes that women's rights, unintended pregnancy rates and children's welfare inspire others.

Mexico, a leading participant that has quadrupled WVD vasectomies since 2015 to nearly 9,000, will host a similar virtual press conference with a live vasectomy out of Mexico City. Also participating in the WVD global movement are Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, Canada, Australia, Brazil, the Philippines, Kenya, India and 20 other countries that have worked with WVD since its inception, increasing procedures and training. In 2019, pre-pandemic, WVD doctors in 38 countries performed about 20,000 procedures.

Yolanda Varela Chavez, director of family planning for Mexico's ministry of health, has made WVD the focus of the ministry's male sexual and reproductive programming for the past five years. “When we started working with WVD, we had no idea that five years later Mexico would become a leader in vasectomy throughout the Americas. Despite Covid, we remain as committed as ever to providing this service to families throughout Mexico."

I had a chance to interview Doug Stein, MD, co-founder of World Vasectomy Day, to learn more.

Why is it important to recognize World Vasectomy Day? Any program that helps prevent unintended pregnancies is worth recognizing on a planet with 7.8 billion people but a sustainable carrying capacity of about 3 billion (

What are some misconceptions that might surround vasectomies? That it is not affordable, that it will hurt, and that it will adversely effect sexual function.

Why is it important for men and women to be informed about vasectomies? If we leave vasectomy off the list of family planning options, we are missing half of our opportunity to prevent unintended pregnancies for couples whose families are complete.

When it comes to permanent birth control, why are vasectomies such a good option? Compared with tubal ligation (the only other "permanent" option), vasectomy is less risky, less expensive, more effective, easier to monitor, and easier to reverse.

ABOUT: World Vasectomy Day, founded in 2013, is the largest male-focused family planning movement in history. It promotes male engagement in sexual and reproductive health by supporting vasectomy providers, forging alliances with public health institutions and combining traditional storytelling with interactive media to educate communities and increase demand. Our sponsors include DKT International, one of the largest providers of family planning, contraceptive, and safe abortion products in the developing world through social marketing in 90 underserved countries throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia. More information:

Videos - if you're interested in more about how the process works, you can watch No-Needle Anesthesia and No-Scalpel Vasectomy

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