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Pregnancy Prevention and Family Planning: Gentlemen, That Includes You

April 09, 2019

Maybe it’s time for a courageous conversation about a vasectomy. But, first, some family planning background from Dr. Jared Bieniek,  medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Tallwood Men’s Health

Q: When we talk about family planning, what exactly are we talking about?
A: Well, family planning is actually not about having children but rather about pregnancy prevention.  There are a variety of contraceptives available, including behaviors, medications, devices and permanent sterilization procedures. It’s important that men and women understand the risks and benefits of each option, including the risk of failure, when choosing the most appropriate option as an individual or as a couple.

Note: This video includes a reference to a vasectomy clinic that took place March 30.

Q: It seems like men aren’t as frequently involved in the family planning process. Why do you think that is?
A: The physical, emotional and cultural burden of a pregnancy falls on women and thus the responsibility of pregnancy prevention has largely defaulted to women. It’s a scientific fact, though, that 100 percent of conceived pregnancies involve a man, so we have no excuse for not being more involved in contraception. Men need to take the initiative to have courageous conversations with their partners about condoms, female contraceptives and vasectomies.

Q: You mentioned vasectomies: What does this procedure involve and how common is it?
A: A vasectomy is a permanent form of male sterilization typically performed in the office. During the 15-minute procedure, the vas deferens, the tube that carries the sperm in scrotum, is cut and the ends sealed.  Despite a better safety profile than female tubal ligation, twice as many couples choose tubal ligation over vasectomy in the U.S. for permanent birth control. Our vasectomy numbers have been far outpaced by other developed countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom. We need to do a better job of cultural acceptance of vasectomies in the U.S.

Dr. Jared Bieniek is medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Tallwood Men’s Health Center in Farmington. 

For information about vasectomies, vasectomy reversal or other men’s health concerns, click here.