Men, if that headline just made you cross your legs – Dr. Neil Pollock wants to have a chat with you.
He’s the Vancouver vasectomy surgeon who will be conducting 35 of the operations tomorrow as a part of a “global vasectomy marathon” for World Vasectomy Day.
It’s a bid to raise awareness of the procedure as a safe form of birth control… and maybe make it seem a little less, well, uncomfortable.
World vasectomy day
Pollock is one of a number of doctors around the world who will be doing dozens of the procedures tomorrow to draw attention to how reliable and low complication the procedure is.
The day even has it’s own live-stream event – though, don’t worry – it’s more of an interview and variety show; the cameras stay blessedly out of the operating room.
Pollock’s clinic is the “anchor leg” of the marathon – he’ll be the last doctor in the series closing out the day.
“We really want more men and more couples to be aware of that as a viable option for birth control,” he says.
That’s in comparison to the equivalent procedure for women which is much more involved and can be quite dangerous.
“We know that the complication risks, for example, for tubal ligation post surgery are higher than they are, more significantly, than for vasectomies. So a woman can actually have a terrible outcome, when they get a tubal pregnancy – it can even lead to death,” he says.
Pollock says in Vancouver, the message has largely gotten through. The procedure is covered by MSP, and about 22% of men consider it is an option once they’re ready to say “no more,” to kids.
But he says the event is focused men around the world, particularly in developing countries. In Africa, for example, fewer than 0.1% of men undergo the procedure.
That’s often because of the stigma.
“Sometimes the ability to reproduce and have multiple children, all of that, is affiliated with that sort of virility image,” he says.
But 35? Really?
Yes, Dr. Pollock will really be snipping 35 patients. But he says #34 and #35 in line shouldn’t be nervous. He’s done up to 54 in a single day.
“I do them in just under five minutes. It’s not really that stressful for me because I’ve done so many of them I’m pretty comfortable with them,” he says.
Pollock says instead it’s a very relaxed environment.
“We just kind of chat about their lives, and things that are meaningful to them, and family and work – and it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with people.”
He says most men are surprised to find out how non-invasive the procedure is, involving just one tiny incision.
“I look at it almost as an Olympic event, every single twist and turn has a specified outcome – and that’s why it’s very simple, succinct, you bring the tube out and you cauterize it … it just takes a few seconds, and then the tiny opening is so small that when you put the tubes back in through the same tiny opening it doesn’t even need any stitches,” he says.
In fact, Pollock even says he’s even had one patient go on to climb a mountain right afterward.
“He saw me a few days later, he said ‘I got off your table and I went up the Grouse Grind.’ I said, come on, and he said ‘No, I did fantastic!’ Now, what I tell people is definitely do not do that.”
Instead, he says go home, lie down with some ice, throw on a movie, and milk it for all the sympathy you can.