The intact gentleman’s vasectomy escape route: why nobody needs to go under the knife
Natural Womanhood once upon a time had a table at a conference on natural mothering. This conference was attended nearly exclusively by women, many of them pregnant or toting babies in slings.
Women wo-manned the vendor’s tables, which were mainly offering special baby foods, nursing equipment, those slings, or books on topics like co-sleeping and other trends in natural mothering. Natural Womanhood was there with free information to help women live their fertility more naturally.
Besides my own husband, I remember only one other man there. He came in pushing a baby in a stroller. His wife, another couple of small children in tow, stopped to chat with someone at a nearby table.
As this young man drifted near our table, I noticed attached to the baby’s stroller signs reading, “His body, his choice.” I asked him what those signs were referring to.
“We’re intactivists,” he explained. “We don’t believe in circumcising babies. We believe they should get to make that choice for themselves when they are older.”
Interesting. I had never heard of intactivitism. Since he was interested in keeping the body intact and in questioning largely unquestioned medical practices, I asked him what he knew about fertility awareness based methods.
Once he figured out that I was talking about a way to prevent pregnancy, he volunteered that he had that one covered: was scheduled for a vasectomy the very next week. He looked very solemn, but brave, as he told me, like a knight facing the dragon to rescue his lady.
How interesting that this thoughtful young man who so strongly opposes letting his infant son go under the knife is the one who chooses, of all options, a vasectomy.
This fellow was clearly making efforts to be egalitarian and respectful of his wife’s body, as well as his son’s. Here he was a supportive husband, not only attending the natural mothering conference with his wife, but also ready to step in heroically and take the blow for her as an act of courageous chivalry. All the same, it was clear to me he was also battling down some measure of natural resistance to it, which is understandable.
About 12% of US couples use vasectomy as a method of contraception, which results in 175,000 to 354,000 operations per year. Compare that to France where only 2,824 vasectomies were reported by the national insurance system in 2013, even though it costs only about $75 (67 euros), vs. $300 to over $3,500 in the US. Do the French know something we don’t?
I get the feeling that the average guy doesn’t face the prospect of a vasectomy casually, and neither did this man. Who can blame him? It’s a selfless blood sacrifice. Guys do it to be a nice guy. They do it perhaps because it does make more logical sense than the more invasive and threatening permanent birth control options women face.
He’s stepping up to take responsibility, do his part in the birth control equation. He wasn’t about to ask his wife to take care of it all herself, to surgically or chemically alter her own body so he doesn’t have to take the risk himself. After all, she had already taken on the whole child-bearing part.
He struck me as a caring, thoughtful man, just the kind of open-minded guy who would make a great fertility awareness partner. I saw that he was simply missing the key information that would allow him to honorably keep his own body intact as well as his wife’s.
“You still have time to cancel that appointment,” I told him. I explained how fertility awareness methods allow a couple to know, without medical or pharmaceutical interventions, which days pregnancy is possible. Furthermore, I told him quickly as his wife approached and a crowd began to flow into the hall, these methods give an amazing window into the state of the woman’s reproductive health. They allow a women to understand what’s going on in her body and help identify and treat the root causes of imbalances.
“It’s highly effective for avoiding pregnancy, but for so much more. It’s even shown to benefit a couple’s relationship,” I told him. “Nobody has to go under the knife.”
Just then his wife walked up with a puzzled frown, and I wondered how she’d react to hearing that some woman was discussing vasectomies with her husband.
“We’re trying to talk him out of it,” I said with a smile. Just then the whole conversation was swept away in the crowd. I felt like I’d tossed a lifesaver to a drowning man right before he disappeared around the bend in the river. Did he catch it? Did he not? Did the wife ask him the right questions?
At least he knows now. I hope I got across enough to intrigue him. Maybe they went home and looked into it. Maybe they postponed his appointment to give them time to look fully into all their options for keeping everybody’s body intact.
Let’s only hope he found some accurate information about the effectiveness of fertility awareness based methods. They’re greatly misrepresented online. Just one negative review, false or not, can be enough to discourage the stoutest soul.
Having seen that dread within the bravery in his eyes about it, I’m hoping he took hold of the facts that lead to the manly, informed path of escape.