Ligation vs Vasectomy: Who should get the snip?

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We weigh the benefits and disadvantages of female ligation vs male vasectomy and explore the issue of the prevalence of female ligation over male sterilisation. Ready to "close shop" but not sure who should snip? We discuss the issues here.

Sterilisation, owing to its efficacy and safety, has become increasingly popular in many parts of the world as a contraceptive.

Whilst not as common in Singapore as in other parts of the world, there is a significant proportion of men and women who turn to ligation and vasectomy as a viable contraceptive option.

Individuals in stable relationships who decide to snip are often faced with the dilemma as to who should go under the knife. Interestingly, it is most often the woman who decides to make the (largely) irreversible snip. This is so despite the fact that there are clearly more advantages for the man to sterilise himself instead of the woman.

Sterilisation for men

Why he should

Getting a vasectomy is a far easier procedure than getting a ligation

Getting a vasectomy is a far easier procedure than getting a ligation.

The procedure for men is tonnes less complicated than what a woman would have to go through. Because the male reproductive organs are located externally, the procedure for sterilisation is much easier.

The female reproductive system, however, is more deeply embedded in the body; when performing ligation, doctors have to dig deeper to reach a woman’s reproductive organs. The difference in downtime after surgery is significant: for men, it ranges from 24 – 48 hours, while it can stretch up to a week for women.

As with other invasive surgeries, a ligation runs a higher risk of infections than the external operation of a vasectomy. Moreover, the pain associated with a ligation is more intense, sometimes even involving significant bleeding and chronic recurrence of pelvic pain in some women.

In the case of vasectomies, the swelling and soreness usually fade within a week with proper rest and care.

Sterilisation for women

Why more women snip 

Many women who snip as a form of birth control are conditioned by social norms to take responsibility for conception (or the inability to, as the case may be).

Other than the fact that women are biologically equipped to carry babies, centuries of gender stereotypes have been ground into us that women should assume the primary responsibility for anything children-related. Many modern women and men seem more comfortable with the idea that it is right for women to undergo the procedure, despite the cons.

The onus often falls on the woman despite the significant advantages

The onus often falls on the woman, despite the significant disadvantages.

Shirin, 39, a working mother of 3 recounts: “It wasn’t even really a discussion somehow. When we had both decided it was time for me to get tied after my last baby, we both automatic(ally) kind of like knew I would be the one to go through it.”

Some women are also afraid that sterilisation would encourage their husbands to commit acts of infidelity. “It’s like telling your husband he can have sex with anyone without consequences, right, if we approve?” frets Rebecca, 29, who has been in a childless marriage for five years.

She had her tubes tied when they first got married, and she and her husband had agreed that they did not want to have children. “I don’t mind giv(ing) my hubby sex but I don’t need to worry about (accidentally getting pregnant).

I don’t want him thinking he can have sex with anyone else and think the same way. (You) must keep your man worried about having sex with other women!”

Men need to realise that they, too, are candidates for the decision of who snips. They can choose to challenge cultural and traditional norms of masculinity that make many men feel that getting themselves snipped would emasculate them.

They need to know that a vasectomy does not mean they would not perform as well sexually after the procedure or that they would not be able to ejaculate as normal (it is a complete myth).

Whatever the reason men and women have for limiting the size of their families, voluntary sterilisation as a form of contraceptive is a method that should be carried out after serious consideration. The decision of who undergoes it must be one that either party can live with.

If couples go into it with a clear mind, it can certainly prove to be a great solution for fuss-free romps under the covers!

So, who snips? Share this article with your man and talk it out together!