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Men seeking more vasectomies in Northeast Ohio as state curbs abortion access

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Demand for vasectomies is up in Northeast Ohio in the wake of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade.

Interest in the procedure has increased so much that Dr. Sarah Vij, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Male Fertility, said she’s had to make more appointments available to help alleviate wait times, which have stretched out to December.

Calls for vasectomy consultations more than doubled in July compared to the same month last year, she said.

“I've opened probably ten extra half days [for vasectomies] and they're filling within days,” she said. “I've never seen this level of demand.”

Zach van Braker, 35, of Brunswick, said the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the subsequent banning of abortion in Ohio after a fetal heartbeat is detected, normally around six weeks of pregnancy, was a major factor in his decision to get a vasectomy.

“Banning abortion was a huge driving factor in this because it makes the possibility of an oopsie this much more invasive and intensive process to undo,” he said. “For both of us, that would be that would have been devastating.”

Van Braker said he and his wife have a 7-year-old son and are happy with their family size. That's not uncommon for those who have the procedure. Among women who relied on vasectomy as their primary form of birth control, more than 80% said the reason for the procedure was that they or their partners had all the children they wanted, according to 2015 figures from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Van Braker isn’t the only man whose interest in a vasectomy, a form of permanent sterilization that stops sperm from passing through the vas deferens and mixing with semen, was piqued by the Dobbs decision.

Dr. Charles Modlin, a urologist at MetroHealth, said that he’s been approached by a number of men wondering if a vasectomy was a good alternative for family planning.

“Absolutely it is a great alternative as opposed to women having to undergo tubal ligation,” Dr. Modlin said. “Vasectomy it’s a very safe procedure. It’s 99.9% effective.”

About 500,000 men get vasectomies every year in the U.S., said Modlin.

“But again it’s vastly under-utilized as far as an option for reproductive planning,” he said. “Only about 5% of all married men of reproductive age currently undergo vasectomy.”

The actual procedure itself takes just minutes, said Vij. Recovery lasts about a week and is done at home.

Stephanie is the digital producer/editor of Ideastream Public Media’s health team.