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Wood

With abortions mostly off the table now in South Carolina, there’s been more interest among males in a birth control option, according to local doctors and media reports. The number of male patients seeking vasectomy consultations seems to be increasing, said local urologist Dr. Case Wood with Lowcountry Urology Clinics. 

“Our group has not, in the last few months, accumulated any data on the rise in vasectomy consults, but anecdotally, I would say that definitely seems to be the case,” Wood said. 

Articles are circulating in the national media about, ahem, rising numbers of men interested in vasectomies in light of the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that protected a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. 

Vasectomy is a form of birth control via medical sterilization that prevents sperm from moving from testicals through the vas deferens, prohibiting it from combining with semen. 

Over the last year, Planned Parenthood has been offering vasectomy services at two health centers in Columbia and Charleston, including counseling consultations for those interested in undergoing the procedure. 

Rivera

 Although the vasectomy service is a relatively new program for the health care provider, communications director for Planned Parenthood Molly Rivera, noted there are an increased number of calls from people inquiring about vasectomies. 

“It’s still to be seen whether or not [those calls] translate into more vasectomies,” she said. “It’s definitely on people’s minds. We’ve seen this elsewhere, like when Donald Trump got elected president, we saw a similar increase in the number of people looking into longer-acting birth control methods. People were fearful that the Trump administration was going to restrict access to birth control, but that actually never really came to fruition. Maybe we’re starting to see the effects of that now.”

The average patient

Lowcountry Urology’s average vasectomy patient is a man in his late-20s to early-40s who is married and has children. 

“It’s usually a couple, the patient and the spouse, who do not desire any[more] children in the future,” Wood said.

Wood

MUSC Health physician Dr. Barry Lifson, who has been practicing urology for decades, said he hasn’t been inundated with men requesting vasectomies.“It may be because it’s only been a couple of weeks since they had the big Supreme Court decision — that’s where all this [discussion] is really being driven from,” he said. “But I don’t know that there’s been enough time for us to really see a change that fast.”

To Lifson, it will be more telling to look at statistical changes with sterilization procedures after considerable time has passed under new statutes that limit or ban access to abortion. Pro-life statutes actually could cause fertility rates to drop as men and women respond to the ban on abortions with more permanent solutions, such as tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men, he said. 

“You’re hearing anecdotally in the media that there’s going to be a big request for tubal ligation and vasectomy because of Roe v. Wade,” Lifson said. “I think what would be really interesting, in the future, will be to look at the differences between blue states versus red states — where you have one state where they’re not restricting abortion and another state nearby where they are restricting.”

Bell

Access can be impediment

But vasectomies aren’t for every guy. 

“Typically Black men don’t get vasectomies for different reasons,” said Dr. Thaddeus Bell with Thaddeus John Bell Family Practice. 

“The main [reason] is that in order to get that procedure done, you [need] to have health insurance,” he said. “So with a lot of Black men not having health insurance, that’s a major barrier. While the Roe v. Wade decision is on the mind of Black men, they don’t look at vasectomy as a way of coping with the matter.”


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