Recession May Have Sparked Increase in Vasectomies

The 2008 financial crisis left many people with questions they'd probably never fully considered. What happens if I'm jobless for few years? How will I put food on the table for my family? According to one study, those financial worries may be responsible for a spike in vasectomy surgeries.

Related: Find out if a vasectomy is 100% effective.

An Uncertain Future

Following anecdotal reports in 2009 in which urologists suspected that a downturn in the economy was a possible reason why they were fielding more requests for vasectomies, researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin crunched some numbers to see if the theory held up. They analyzed how many men had vasectomies at their facility from June 2005 through October 2012, taking into account the Wisconsin median income and overall U.S. median income during those years.

They found that when the state median income was $54,269 in 2005, just 91 men had a vasectomy. That number jumped to 239 men in 2010, when the median income dipped to $50,547. Pre-recession, men who got the procedure already had 3 children, on average. After 2008, the average was 2. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Related: How painful is a vasectomy?

The researchers reasoned that men who had vasectomies at the height of the recession knew that an unexpected child would increase the cost of living during an uncertain time in the economy. But some other experts aren’t convinced, noting that even though a poor economy is proven to affect family planning decisions, the study didn’t show that men who followed through with the procedure actually had lower incomes. They also noted that higher-income and highly educated white men have vasectomies most often.

Is getting a vasectomy the right decision?
Only you know if a vasectomy is the best option for you. Put simply, it's a minor surgical procedure that essentially blocks the transportation of sperm during ejaculation. Keep in mind that it can be reversed—between 85% and 97% of guys who undergo the most common type of vasectomy reversal can have sperm in their semen again—but the reversal is difficult and expensive (and usually not covered by insurance). But before you decide on whether to get one, think about its possible risks and other methods of birth control as well, which include:

  • Oral contraceptives
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Diaphragm
  • Condoms

Related: Learn how a conventional vasectomy is performed.

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