International Conference on Family Planning 2009

Family Planning: Research and Best Practices

Is That a Vasectomy in Your Pocket?

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In sub-Saharan Africa, there are 23 million couples who wish to limit their childbearing, and 12 million have an unmet need for family planning.

“The two most cost-effective methods,” said Isaiah Ndong, of Engender Health, “are IUDs and vasectomy. And vasectomy is much cheaper than sterilizing women.” One of the advantages of vasectomy is that it can be offered in a variety of settings, which increases access.

“Despite what you all may have heard,” said Ndong, “African men want to be involved in family planning and are accepting of vasectomy.” The comment drew a few snickers from African women in the audience.

Citing Demographic and Health Surveys data, Ndong reported that in sub-Saharan Africa, only 20 percent of women report knowledge of vasectomy; likewise, only 33 percent of men report knowledge of it. “Vasectomy,” said Ndong, “is the modern family planning method that is least known.”

Ndong addressed some of the many misconceptions about vasectomy among Africans. One of the myths maintains that vasectomy is equal to castration. Another misconception is that vasectomy impairs sexual function. And still more misinformation includes the ideas that vasectomy will make the man fat, or weak, or less productive. But these are only myths, said Ndong.

Education is key, where vasectomy is concerned. Ndong recommended education strategies that include print, radio and hotlines. He also suggested that male champions of vasectomy be recruited. “Persistence yields results,” he said.

Written by C. Grillo | JHSPH

November 17, 2009 at 7:35 pm

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