The Vasectomy Hoopla

These are times fraught with uncertainty. A sunny day isn’t just a sunny day anymore; it’s evidence of global warming. America has been at war for almost a decade, trusted financial institutions are folding and our economy appears to be on the verge of collapse. It seems only natural that people would look at our unstable world, ask themselves dark-night-of-the-soul type questions, and choose what is right for them.
In the last several months, since the scope of our financial crisis has made itself known, there has been a spike in the number of vasectomies being performed. Some Planned Parenthoods are reporting that vasectomies are on the rise, up thirty percent from the same period last year. Several doctors have also made the same observation. The New York Times recently attributed the increase to the bleak outlook of America’s economy. They postulate that men are reacting out of fear that they can’t afford a child. This is too simplistic a conclusion. A man’s life is long, as is the ability to reproduce, and can easily outlast a financial deep freeze. And people don’t stop wanting children simply because they are expensive. The desire to procreate runs too deep; as deep as the need to eat.
There could be other reasons for the increase, if in fact there really is an increase. For one thing, reproductive impulses move with the seasons. It has been observed that, like most of nature, human reproduction is seasonal. It is widely accepted in the scientific community that birthrates swing up and down as the year progresses, with more babies born in the spring. Just like lambs. Despite our seeming transcendence of the animal world, reproductive urges remain firmly guided by biology. We could simply be seeing a downswing in this urge at this time.
It’s also possible that the new year, especially this one, gave people a desire to make a fresh start, and are putting their plans into action while they feel motivated. No doubt there will be a lull in vasectomy business when everyone runs off for vacation in the summer. Mai-tai or vasectomy? You choose.
One observation that throws a wrench in the New York Times’ argument is that right now, in my practice, I am seeing a surge of interest in vasectomy reversals. With these couples, just as with men seeking vasectomies, there is a level of urgency. Across the board, I hear the same thing from both groups — it’s now or never.
I am inclined to think that the grim reality of the recession, the wars, the rise in global temperature (will that affect sperm production?) — threats such as these crystallize thoughts and focus actions, helping us to clarify in our minds what we truly want. I think men are simply putting into action what they were already planning to do, while it is still possible. Whether it’s a man who seeks a vasectomy before he’s laid off, or a couple who thinks the clock is ticking just a little louder, times like these can reveal to people what is truly, fundamentally important to them.