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Getting the snip is on the rise for guys

U.S. couples are still more likely to choose female sterilization over vasectomy, but guys are starting to catch up.

UPDATE: 2019 open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act plans runs from November 1, 2018 to December 15, 2018. Find out more here.

Sterilization is the most common form of birth control in the United States, with 23% of all U.S. women relying on it to prevent pregnancy. Sterilization for men is done through a permanent procedure called a vasectomy. This is a super-effective and minimally invasive option for couples who are done having kids or simply don’t want kids at all.

Even though vasectomy is a quicker procedure than female sterilization, it’s less common in the U.S. (6.2% of women rely on it to avoid pregnancy versus 16.5% who rely on getting sterilized themselves.) But guys may be coming around: researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College found that the number of men ages 18-44 who’d had a vasectomy increased from 5.8% to 7.5% between 2006 and 2010.

Correlation ≠ causation

There was another important change in this time period: The economy officially went into recession from December 2007 to June 2009. The researchers found that during and after the recession, men had lower average salaries and less full-time work. Finances are a big deal when couples are planning their families, so it could make sense for men whose incomes were lower to choose not to have more kids. But the new research can’t tell us for sure that the recession was the reason for the increase.

Interestingly, the increase in vasectomies happened at the same time as a decrease in the proportion of men with health insurance coverage from 75.1% to 70.7%. But what about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you say? This study happened before health insurance plans had to provide birth control without co-pays.

But the ACA may not help guys who want a vasectomy: the law does not say that birth control for guys has to be covered. Health plans may cover the procedure anyway, but there’s no guarantee. Still, if you and your partner know you’re done having kids or never want kids, vasectomy can be the one-and-done gift that keeps on giving.

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