The ins and outs of hysterectomies and vasectomies

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Illustration by Shannon Kidd

Here’s the dilemma: You’ve either parented your way through the sleepless nights, the crayon drawings on the wall, and the years of teenage angst—which were just as restless and confusing for you as they were for your child—and have reached the point in your life where wiping snotty noses and setting curfews pose less rewards than they have in the past, or you’re absolutely positive that you will never desire experiencing any of those things in the first place.

Having kids is out of the question for you.

While regular birth control methods are effective when used properly and are a popular and common way to prevent unintended pregnancies, having permanent protection can be more useful to ensure the years of parenting are truly in the past.

Though the term “sterilization” seems frightful and intimidating, it’s the most common type of birth control used among couples in the United States.

For women, one option of sterilization involves a surgical operation where all or part of the uterus is removed. This is more commonly known as a hysterectomy. For men, this form of birth control is a vasectomy, which involves a surgery where the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis are either blocked or cut.

Though they both may sound equally frightening, considering parts of the human anatomy are either removed, snipped, cut or blocked, women have generally taken on the responsibility of ensuring they and their husbands are not surprised by a bun in the oven.

Both options are extremely effective despite the fact that each poses different concerns and questions. Though vasectomies are generally safer, ending in less complications and resulting in fewer possible infections, hysterectomy success rates are slightly higher in preventing pregnancy after one year has passed.

Vasectomy surgeries are faster and easier as well, considering the surgery can be performed with only the use of anesthesia. Recovery time is minimal for a vasectomy, and additional time in hospital is rarely necessary.

Despite the pros and cons of health risks, surgical costs, and recovery time, access to these procedures varies greatly and may determine who undergoes the process of sterilization.

Vasectomies are not covered by Medicare, disqualifying any patients who fall under that specific coverage. Though not all Medicaid insurers cover vasectomies, some do. Private insurance coverage varies as well. An uninsured vasectomy procedure can cost up to $1,000, with the lowest cost procedure starting at $300.

As far as hysterectomies go, if you’re covered under the Affordable Care Act, your preferred birth control is covered without any expenses paid directly out of your own pocket. (You can thank Trump and his minions if that changes in the future.)

Without insurance, a hysterectomy can become a financial nightmare for a couple. Because there are different types of hysterectomies available, all entailing different specific procedures, the costs may vary. Costs can range anywhere from $2,000–$11,000.

The difference in price for male sterilization vs. female sterilization is obvious: Women are going to pay twice as much as men to ensure they never have kids again. Though services are both available to women and men, the option right for you depends greatly on your insurance coverage and financial wealth. Because of that, being able to access these services is not truly available to everyone.

Perhaps because a woman’s anatomy is more complex, a hysterectomy renders a more complicated and threatening surgery to ensure no children are created within the act of sexual pleasure. Maybe it’s because of the fact that blatant sexism—which definitely affects women’s health costs and coverage—still exists in our society today. The blame could easily be put on capitalism.

Despite the causes, being sterilized as a woman is going to have a greater effect in terms of personal health and finances.

Though the sticky hands of a toddler and back-talking as a teenager may hold more value than presented at first glance, there may come a time where peace and quiet is more valuable than any other reward parenting has to offer. As a result, permanent birth control may come into question.

Before you go ripping out your uterus or snipping away at your sperm-carrying tubes, explore your options, examine your insurance coverage, and count all the pennies in your pocket.

And hey, men. Take one for the team here. Take one for your lady and for your bank account, huh?

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