With abortion no longer deemed a constitutional right in the United States (US), the importance of effective contraceptive methods cannot be overstated. Both male sterilization (vasectomy) and female sterilization (tubal ligation) have the lowest failure rates of available means of contraception. Despite the less invasive and reversible nature of vasectomy compared to tubal ligation procedures and even though some healthcare professionals dissuade certain women, especially those who are white and/or economically advantaged, from undergoing a sterilization procedure, female sterilization is approximately three times more prevalent than male sterilization in the US.
We suggest that the discrepancy in sterilization rates is attributable to the burdens of pregnancy and birth experienced by women, beliefs that pregnancy prevention is a woman’s responsibility, a dearth of sex education that results in lack of knowledge and poor understanding of contraception, perceptions of masculinity in which contraception is viewed as feminizing, and the increase in long-term singlehood that shapes the desire of individuals to avoid unwanted pregnancy that may result in single parenting.
Recent reports suggest that court rulings restricting abortion access and looming threats to contraceptive legality and accessibility may be prompting a national increase in male sterilization.