There are a lot of people out there that are trying not to have kids. In fact, there are so many people trying not to have kids that there’s a global market worth tens of billions of dollars. These include condoms, the pill, spermicide, IUDs, diaphragms, implants, and many more. Most of these are very effective, but none of them are permanent, and they are subject to human errors (e.g. forgot to take the pill, forgot a condom, incorrect diaphragm placement). Hormonal birth controls often cause a myriad of side effects for women, including menstrual pain, acne, nausea, weight gain, decreased libido, vaginal discharge, mood changes, and the list goes on.
For couples that do not wish to have kids in the future, what options are available? Well, there are two main forms of permanent birth control: vasectomy and tubal ligation.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know what a vasectomy is. But in case you don’t, vasectomy is a procedure in which the tube that transports sperm from the vas deferens to the urethra, the vas deferens, is surgically severed and the ends are blocked off, preventing any sperm from entering the semen. Vasectomies are permanent procedures, so it will last your entire life, though they are reversible depending on the time passed since the vasectomy. If you’re considering a vasectomy it’s important to be absolutely sure that you want it.
The refined no-scalpel Easy Vasectomy® with no needle and no suture techniques minimizes trauma, pain and complications. New and minimal invasive vasectomy techniques have successfully allayed many men’s fears with regard to the scalpel.
In a tubal ligation, often known as “having your tubes tied”, the doctor will sever and block off the fallopian tubes which transport the egg from the ovaries to the uterus. Like vasectomy, it is a permanent procedure. Either of these options will prevent a baby from entering your life, but which is the better options?
If you guessed vasectomy, you’re completely right. For one, tubal ligation is far more labor intensive and invasive. A surgeon must make two small cuts in the abdomen and use what is called a laparoscope to severe and close up the ends of the fallopian tubes. A tubal ligation must be done in the hospital, may require several hours or an overnight stay in the hospital, while a vasectomy can be done in the office in under 10 minutes. Most men can return to work within 48 hours but women who undergo tubal ligation may require four to seven days. Not to mention that tubal ligation costs at least $5,000 to $8,500 on average.
Side effects and complications are also more likely with tubal ligation. This includes nausea, vomiting, infection, bleeding, bruising and side effects from anesthesia. With vasectomies, especially no-scalpel vasectomies, there are minimal side effects (mild pain and bruising) and complications such as hematoma and infection are exceedingly rare, since the procedure is minimally invasive. The failure rate is 0.02%-0.2% for vasectomy while the failure rate for tubal ligation is 0.73%-1.85%. Despite this two thirds of couples still opt for the tubal ligation.
While both of these methods are effective, it’s clear that vasectomies are safer, quicker, more convenient, and less costly than a tubal ligation. In our patriarchal society we often place much of the responsibility of birth control on the woman’s shoulder, despite the fact that doing so is less ideal. It’s time we make a change.