Snip, snip: Vasectomies in America are more common than ever

CHICAGO — Fatherhood is off the table for a growing number of men in America. A fascinating new analysis of health insurance data reveals that more and more men in the U.S. are opting to have a vasectomy over the last decade. Researchers at the University of Chicago have uncovered this extraordinary surge in U.S. vasectomies between 2014 and 2021.

Often depicted humorously in sitcoms and movies, vasectomies are no joke for real-world patients. The outpatient surgical procedure offers permanent male contraception by way of preventing sperm from leaving the body.

Study authors say their research was inspired by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade. The research team set out to see if an anticipated rise in restrictions to abortion access would lead to increased interest in vasectomies in the preceding years.

All in all, after noting a 26-percent relative increase in vasectomy rates between 2014 and 2021, researchers say their work highlights the pressing need for doctors and healthcare providers to be proactive when it comes to offering comprehensive counseling and accommodations for patients seeking out permanent contraception options.

Across both the Section of Urology at the University of Chicago Medicine and the UChicago Center for Health and the Social Sciences, researchers calculated the annual vasectomy rate among privately insured men between 18 and 64 years-old in the U.S. via commercial health insurance claims data. This approach led study authors to discover that the percentage of all male patients undergoing vasectomies in a given year increased notably between 2014 (0.427%) and 2021 (0.537%).

While the amount of vasectomies among the general population is still quite low (about 4% of men report having a vasectomy), researchers believe this clear increase in vasectomy rates means urologists should be prepared for more frequent family planning conversations and patients.

“We are anticipating increased consultations for vasectomy in our clinics,” says senior study author urologist Omer Raheem, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery-Urology, in a media release. “It is essential for healthcare providers to be aware of these trends and proactively offer vasectomy counseling and services to meet the growing needs of patients.”

Doctor talking to male patient
(© Pixel-Shot – stock.adobe.com)

In order to assess these needs further, the research team performed additional analyses focused on variations in vasectomy rates according to age group, marital status, maternal age of partner, number of children, and location. Absolute changes were most notable among men with three or more children, those with two children, and those with a partner under 35. On the other hand, relative changes were most prominent in men with no children, men with a partner over the age of 35, single men, and men between 18 and 24. Those findings specifically point to the increasing popularity of the procedure among men who may not have opted for permanent contraception in earlier years.

Moreover, in all included regions besides the Northeast, the absolute and relative changes were greater in rural areas as opposed to urban spots. Dr. Raheem speculates this may indicate a need to focus on ensuring widespread access to care. Moving forward, the research team plans to investigate post-Dobbs trends once data becomes available.

“Google Trends analyses, media outlets and retrospective reviews of billing and electronic medical records from academic hospitals have suggested even greater interest in vasectomies after the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” the study authors write.

“While survey and health insurance claims data from 2022 are not yet available to directly study this relationship, our findings offer valuable context on permanent contraceptive utilization in men in the years leading up to the landmark decision,” Dr. Raheem concludes.

In summation, this study speaks to the significance of providing diverse contraceptive options, like vasectomies and male contraceptive pills.

The study is published in the journal Urology.

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About the Author

John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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