Why We Must Talk About Vasectomy on International Women’s Day

March 7th, 2016 | Viewpoint


I admit on the surface it seems odd. But consider this: if access to contraception is a human right (and humans include both men and women), and programs aim for the maximum variety in choice of methods, then vasectomy must be part of the mix in mature family planning programs. In the United States, more than half-a-million men a year choose vasectomy as their family’s way to regulate fertility. If vasectomy is the second-most popular method in the U.S.—and it is—why is it virtually unavailable in many developing countries? And more to the point: why are family planning advocates and policy makers not making more of a fuss about this?

We know there are many potential and actual cultural barriers and that intensive public education is needed. Yes, this is true. Yet the family planning community has overcome cultural and educational barriers in many countries and for other methods. Getting vasectomy to be an accepted part of national family planning programs will take time, so we are way behind schedule for advocacy.

International Women’s Day is the perfect day to start catching up. Why, you ask? Because a man’s or couple’s choice to use vasectomy is pro-woman. Vasectomy says that the man is acknowledges that the procedure is simpler than a tubal ligation for his partner. Vasectomy also indicates that the man is taking an active role in his family’s planning. What could be more pro-woman? What could better capture the spirit and theme of 2016 International Women’s Day, which is gender parity?

So on this International Women’s Day, I tip my hat to all the courageous and unselfish men who protect their wives and families by choosing vasectomy.

Written by Nancy Harris

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