In my last MKE SEX missive, I bemoaned the state of the world, saying that I couldn’t bring myself to write a sex ed column (even though I know sex education is very, very important). One of the (many) burdens weighing me down was the leaked SCOTUS decision which will be formally issued sometime this month, and which will essentially ban or significantly restrict abortions in about half of the United States. (This article from Politico has some really easy to understand maps and graphs to help clarify what will happen in which states.) In Wisconsin, abortion is currently legal (though burdensome) until 22 weeks of pregnancy (20 weeks after conception). Assuming SCOTUS issues a final decision that is the same as the leaked draft, it would immediately revive a Wisconsin law written in 1894 which prohibits the act of performing an abortion (punishing the provider not the pregnant person). The penalty for violating the law is six years in prison and a fine of $10,000. All of this despite the fact that about more than 60 percent of Wisconsinites favor legal abortions in “all or more cases,” according to a poll conducted by the conservative Marquette University Law School.
As I sat through that week, trying and failing to write my column (and perform other important tasks of day-to-day living), I was also working with the families in my midwifery practice. Prenatal and postpartum appointments make up the vast majority of the work of a midwife. Our appointments take about an hour, and we really get to talk through things. The families I work with have been very bothered by the SCOTUS draft since it was leaked more than a month ago. But in the last two weeks, I’ve been feeling encouraged by the comments of the partners, fathers, and husbands in my practice.
I like to ask my clients about future family planning at the end of pregnancy, before they’ve even given birth. Not everyone has an answer, of course, but it’s good to start thinking about it early. We discuss it again around two weeks postpartum and then at their final six week visit as well, giving folks plenty of opportunity to ask questions and make a plan. In the two weeks since I wrote my last column, about half of the partners have said some variation of, “I’m getting a vasectomy soon. I don’t want my spouse to have to deal with the abortion ban. It’s completely unfair, and I’m doing something about it.” Those words uplifted me the first time someone said them to me. The second time, I felt hopeful for our future. By the fifth time, I was practically in tears. The fact that so many folks who love birthing people are taking initiative to protect their spouses and their families is downright inspiring.
Is this a complete and acceptable replacement for having total autonomy over our own bodies, choosing when to be pregnant and when to end a pregnancy? No, absolutely not. But it signals that those of us with uteruses are not in this alone. There are so many other things that we’ll need as we navigate through this world without our abortion rights. We’ll utilize mutual aid to pay for termination and organize transportation to legal states. We’ll learn how to have abortions outside of the system and care for each other through the home abortion process. We’ll find inside ourselves a deeper level of compassion and support for others’ choices than we knew we were capable of. And some of our partners will get a vasectomy not just to protect us, but also to share in the responsibility of family planning. It’s one piece of a much larger puzzle, and this week it gave me hope.
If you’re considering a vasectomy, here’s some quick info for you:
How effective is a vasectomy at preventing pregnancy?
Vasectomies are 99+ percent effective at preventing pregnancy about three to four months following the procedure. Until that time, you’ll want to use an alternate form of birth control. Vasectomies do not prevent the transmission of STIs.
How much does a vasectomy cost?
Let me just say that getting a vasectomy is much less expensive than paying for obstetric care in the childbearing year for a single child. It’s also cheaper than paying for a lifetime of birth control options like the pill, IUDs, and even condoms. Most experts put the final out-of-pocket cost at about $1000, including your consultation visit, local anesthesia, follow-up care and the procedure itself. Many insurance companies cover all or part of the cost. Getting the vasectomy at your doctor’s office (if possible) instead of a surgical center can save a lot of money. For folks who don’t have insurance, clinics like Planned Parenthood also do vasectomies.
Is a vasectomy really reversible?
There’s a common perception that getting a vasectomy isn’t a big deal because they can be reversed. This is both true and not true. In the first three years after a vasectomy, reversals are about 75 percent effective. Within three to eight years, reversals have a 55 percent chance of effectiveness. Once it’s been about nine years, the effectiveness is about 45 percent. Reversals also tend to be most expensive than the vasectomy itself, and less likely to be covered by insurance. However, it’s also possible to extract sperm from the testes after a reversal and use that sperm for insemination if reversal isn’t really your thing. Similarly, you can bank sperm before a vasectomy for future use during insemination.
What is recovery like after a vasectomy?
Most folks say they felt “back to normal” in just a few days. It’s a good idea to plan to lay low for about three days after a vasectomy, and to skip your daily jog, soccer practice, or similarly active behavior for about a week. In the first 24 hours, your ice pack is going to be your friend. Some swelling and bruising are expected. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen will also help a great deal. There is a small risk of infection following the procedure (one to four percent), but patients are typically given a short course of antibiotics to prevent this.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at [email protected] and she’ll get back to you with an answer.