Vasectomy vs. tubal ligation-Which is more common?

The prevalence of vasectomy was 6.6% (compared with a tubal ligation prevalence of 16.35%).

Many factors, including social, medical, and unknown reasons, contribute to the decision of a couple to proceed with one form or another of surgical sterilization.

Objective: To describe the demographics and family planning attitudes of vasectomized men.

Design: Retrospective cohort analysis of National Survey for Family Growth data collected through the National Center for Health Statistics between June 2006 and June 2010.

Methods: The survey sampled 10,403 men from various urban and rural communities, aged 15 to 45 years, regarding family planning attitudes. These sampled statistics could be extrapolated to provide a reasonably accurate national survey portrait.

Results: The prevalence of vasectomy was 6.6% (compared with a tubal ligation prevalence of 16.35%). The odds ratios (OR) for having a vasectomy in this sample were: currently married 7.8; previously married 5.8; and increased age 1.1. The odds increased with increased number of biologic children. Examples of factors decreasing the odds of having a vasectomy were: immigrant status (OR 0.18); African American (OR 0.22); Hispanic (OR 0.054); or Catholic (OR 0.55). Also, this survey determined that 19.6% of vasectomized men expressed a desire for future children suggesting a higher than previously recognized prevalence of sterilization regret; yet only 1.9% of vasectomized men in the sample reported having a reversal.

Conclusions: Many factors, some social, some medical, some unknown, contribute to the decision of a couple to proceed with one form or another of surgical sterilization.

Reviewer’s Comments: As pointed out in this article, there are many factors that contribute to the decision to cease further childbearing. A permanent sterilization procedure is a popular choice, particularly among married couples. The demographic factors that tilt a couple towards tubal ligation or vasectomy are explored in this article, and the data promote lively speculation.(Reviewer–Berel Held, MD).

Article Reviewed: Vasectomy Demographics and Postvasectomy Desire for Future Children: Results From a Contemporary National Survey. Sharma V, Le BV, et al: Fertil Steril; 2013;99 (June): 1880-1885.

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