In the days and months following both the leak and the official release of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Google search queries for "get a vasectomy" (and other related searches) peaked and reached an all-time high.
According to data from Google Trends, the search "get a vasectomy" reached its all-time "peak popularity" in June 2022 — almost double the last time the search term peaked, in September 2021.
This Google Trends data is aligned with what urologists and doctors are seeing across the country, too. In Florida, urologist Doug Stein (also known as the "Vasectomy King" for his advocacy of the procedure) told The Washington Post he went from receiving four to five vasectomy requests a day — to 12 to 18 requests per day now.
Stein's colleague John Curington also told The Post that “at least 60 or 70 percent are mentioning the Supreme Court decision” and citing Justice Thomas’ opinion on contraception being next, which wasn't something that ever made it into the doctor-patient conversation, “until this week.”
A urologist in Los Angeles reported a “300 to 400 percent” increase in vasectomy consultations, and an Iowa-based urologist who trained under Stein reported seeing a “200 to 250 percent” increase in website traffic specifically for information about vasectomies.
The responsibility of contraception has historically (and still today) fallen on women and people with uteruses, and has long come with its own challenges — from access, affordability, pain, side effects, and more.
Why is this good news?
We're celebrating the news that more sperm-carrying individuals (even if it's their partner doing the Googling!) are sharing the responsibility of managing contraception and taking care of their own reproductive health — and supporting the reproductive health of others.
The interest seems to be sustaining all over the United States. We've even seen a spike of interest in Canada and Australia.
How can readers make a difference?
Women and uterus-owners have historically carried the burden of birth control, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Partners can explore different birth control methods and even consider joining a trial for new male birth control.
Beyond birth control, you can make a difference for reproductive rights in general. Read our guide to how to support reproductive justice in response to Dobbs — and learn more about what actually reduces abortion rates.
What’s the process of getting a vasectomy?
According to Mayo Clinic, the usual first step is to simply have a conversation with your doctor, who will ensure you understand the procedure.
You’ll then schedule an appointment for the procedure, which is often done at your doctor’s office or at a surgery center under local anesthesia.
The 10-minute procedure will, through a small incision, stop the supply of sperm to your semen by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm.
After the surgery, you simply need to avoid sexual activity for a week — and you might need an ice pack.
According to Planned Parenthood, it may take up to three months after a vasectomy for your semen to no longer contain any sperm. Until this point, you should continue using other birth control.
A vasectomy is not recommended for people who want to have biological children in the future. While reversals are possible, this surgery is considered “a permanent form of male birth control.”
The process is nearly 100% effective in preventing pregnancies.
What’s the nuance?
Vasectomies have been safe, accessible, and largely affordable for more than 75 years but only 10-20% of men in North America and Europe have gotten the procedure.
It’s disappointing that it took so long (and the loss of women’s rights) to see an increased interest in vasectomies — but it truly is encouraging to see an increased number of new appointments. (And navigating the American health care system is no easy feat!)
Perhaps next year’s data on the number of vasectomies will look a lot different.