A lot of conversations are going on regarding what roles men really play in contraception. The issue of “male involvement” brings about interesting ideas of what it means for men to have a stake in Family Planning. While some think of it as men supporting their female partners in their FP journey, others insist that men themselves should take that journey in order to lift some of the burden from women, after all, they are active participants in the process of making babies.
Male Condoms are a very good option with about 90% protection with typical use and up to 97% effectiveness when used properly. A plus with condoms is that they can also protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections, something most contraceptive options cannot do. The catch for many is that they have to remember to carry them along and also change them every round they go. For some that is worth the protection they get, while others think of it as a burden, and decide to sometimes skip it.
“…The only way birth control is going to work is if you use it”
-Shan Boodram (Certified Intimacy Educator)
Vasectomy seems to be the answer for so many people. What is Vasectomy, how does it work and why should you care? Do we recommend this as the answer to all “male involvement” arguments?
It is a permanent method of contraception that involves a surgical procedure of cutting the tubes that deliver sperm cells to the penis. It is a simple procedure that can take about 10-30 minutes. There is usually a three month window with vasectomies, in which the client is advised to use an alternative form of contraception. After the three-month window, they are then required to do a sperm count to ensure the effectiveness of the procedure.
Risks and complications
- Infection (which can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a medical practitioner)
- Failure- 1 in 2000 chance of failure
- Chronic pain
What Vasectomy does not do
- Doesn’t increase the risk of prostate cancer
- Does not reduce the sexual performance of the man in anyway shape or form
- Make a man become less than a man (why would it do that?)
Being a procedure that is simple, a vasectomy is not expensive to get. The specific cost really depends on the facility, whether it’s public or private and even among private facilities you can find differences in cost. We would advise that a person that is considering getting a vasectomy approaches a health facility that they are familiar with and make enquiries about the procedure and request for a referral if it is not being done in that facility
Why should you care?
Vasectomy as we have seen is a very effective, permanent method of contraception. It is easier than its female equivalent- tubal ligation (aka tying the tubes). It does make men active stakeholders in Family Planning as opposed to simply being the ones that hold the women’s hand through the process (which is still very relevant)
Is Vasectomy the answer to all male involvement questions?
When it comes to birth control, informed choice is very important. In fact, the service provider is obliged to give information on benefits and side effects of all available contraceptive options and let them decide based on their unique goals and medical history, what option is best for them. We believe that it is the right of every client to get this information and vasectomy should be included during counseling.
While involving female partners goes a long way, whether or not a man gets a vasectomy should be completely his choice. We do recognize, though, that we need to create more enlightenment on Vasectomy for men and have these conversations openly with our friends, peers and partners.