Permanent birth control: whose responsibility is it?

By Victoria Fryer 

Recently, I’ve written about making it permanent—birth control, that is. There are several different options for women, and as I think I mentioned, I don’t find any of them particularly appealing, for various reasons.

As you know, men have an option as well. The vasectomy is an in-office procedure requiring only a local anaesthetic and minimal recovery time. Overall, the vasectomy is cheaper, more effective, and risks fewer side effects than does the comparable women’s surgery of a tubal ligation.

But the million dollar question is: whose responsibility is it to make it permanent?

It may already be obvious which side I’m on. But my husband and I have had several conversations about our options in this arena, and still we’ve taken no action steps toward actually completing any of the possible procedures.

I think both of us have fears. There is always some kind of risk associated with medical procedures, no matter how common or minimal. And there are personal hang-ups as well. I, for one, hate the idea of anaesthesia. (And I’ve written before how I feel about foreign objects being placed permanently in my body.) For him, he sees the prospect of a painful snipping in a–ahem–very sensitive part of the body.

And I wonder too: what are the associations for men between masculinity and fertility?

For women who want to have children, I know that some feel as if their ability to be a woman–their very femininity–is in question when they are unable. But, in my experience, this is less true for women who don’t want children anyway.

As a woman myself, I would never venture to guess what the male experience is like. Is there a feeling that men will be less, I don’t know, themselves after a procedure like the vasectomy?

Obviously, I’m biased toward myself here. When I think about the options, to me it’s clear which one of us should go under the knife. But I’m trying to understand the opposite perspective. I want to understand the fears, the drawbacks, and the hesitancy from the male perspective.

For couples who have made the decision to make birth control a permanent measure, I’m curious to know: what were the conversations like in making that decision? Was it a measured, intellectual discussion or did one of you just decide: this is what I want to do? And how do you, as a couple, feel about your decision now?

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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