Ann Biddlecom and Laura Lindberg are senior research associates at the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank on sexual and reproductive health issues.
Valentine’s Day is once again sending millions of guys scrambling for just the right gift for their significant other. Chocolate and flowers are nice, sure, but over time they lose their sizzle, especially if you’re married or in a long-term relationship. Something deeper and more meaningful is clearly needed—something that demonstrates how much a man truly loves, understands and appreciates his partner.
As the temptation grows to succumb to the diamond industry’s ubiquitous TV ads, we’d like to propose a different kind of V-Day gift—one that truly is “A Girl’s Best Friend”—for all those men still searching for that special something this late in the game.
Here it is: Consider getting a vasectomy.
Wait! Uncross your legs, take a deep breath and mull over the top five reasons why a vasectomy may be right for you and your wife or partner. The only caveats are that you (1) must be fairly sure that you don’t want any more kids and (2) should be in a long-term relationship. (Small print: vasectomy can also be a good option for single guys who meet the first criterion, but it will not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.)
So here are the top five reasons why a vasectomy might be the perfect gift for the one you love:
1) It’s highly effective. More than three out of four women aged 35 to 44 do not intend to have any more kids. And guess what? The number is about the same among men. Hands down, a vasectomy is one of the most effective methods of birth control—much more so than the pill or condoms. Vasectomy is effective 99.9 percent of the time. Unless you’re having no sex at all, it’s hard to improve on those odds.
2) It will save you serious money. Vasectomy is three to four times cheaper than female sterilization, and even its one-time cost is far less than the monthly co-pays or out-of-pocket costs for female contraceptive methods like the pill. Besides, your health insurance plan is likely to pick up most or all of the cost. Cost savings also means that you have more money to spend on the more enjoyable things in life, such as romantic dinners, which might actually lead to the need for contraception!
3) It will make her life easier. Most female birth control methods require regular maintenance. Did she take her pill today? Is her IUD string still there? Does she have her diaphragm nearby? She has been shouldering the burden of family planning long enough. It’s time for men to step up and do their part. The procedure itself is quick, and so is recovery, and it’s much safer and less invasive than female sterilization. Many men choose to book the appointment on Friday after work, and are back in the saddle by Monday. If your partner has had a baby or two, think what her body has already been through. She’s put in her time—certainly you can spend a day with a little ice on your privates.
4) Goodbye, hormones. Hormonal contraceptive methods—such as the pill, patch or injectable—are among the most popular and effective for women. Unfortunately, they are also, well, hormonal. But a vasectomy? It’s not, and what a great gift to give your wife or partner: no more side effects.
5) It works for men of all stripes. The progressive who feels passionately about greater equality between men and women; the fiscal conservative who is ever eager to save a buck; the hedonist who wants to have great sex without added worries (mind you, in a long-term relationship!); and even the environmentalist who wants to deal with fewer contraceptive packaging materials in their daily lives. So what happens if your buddies find out and declare that you’re whipped? No worries, mate. Some of the most rugged men in the world have decided that vasectomy is the right thing to do: About one in four married men in New Zealand—those self-described “blokes” renowned for their toughness on the rugby pitch—have had vasectomies. That compares to a mere 13 percent of their American counterparts.
So there you have it. A vasectomy makes for sex without stress (or at least less stress about unwanted consequences) since you don’t have to worry about an unintended pregnancy. You’re actually saving money. You’ll have sex that is much more enjoyable. And most of all, you’re showing your partner just how deeply you care about her. There is nothing quite as sexy as a man with a vasectomy. A small snip of your vas deferens may make a vast difference in your love life!
So let this Valentine’s Day truly be “V-Day” for the one you love by giving her romance not just for the one night—but for so many afterward. A vasectomy really is the gift that keeps on giving.