How Do I Convince My Husband to Get a Vasectomy?

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make YOUR CALL on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

How do I convince my husband to get a vasectomy? We have two kids; we don’t want to have any more. We have a strong, loving, supportive relationship (i.e. divorce seems highly unlikely). He was ready to do it, though he’s always been very worried about the pain (overly so, as far as I’m concerned), but when he went in for the consultation, the doctor said, “So imagine your wife and kids are killed in a car accident. Are you sure you’d want to be infertile then?” Thanks, doc. That was 5 years ago, still no V. I don’t want to go on the Pill (too many hormones), I don’t want an IUD shoved up me (it skeeves me out), and I’m sick of condoms and the stress of withdrawal. I carried two children to term, I had a C-section, I’ve done my part — I think it’s his turn to step up. How can I convince him? P.S. He’s in his 40s so it’s not like his sperm are all fresh and pristine. And freezing is not an option, unless there’s a discount way to do that that I don’t know of.

— V Is Not for Victory

What should VINFV do?
Let her know in the comments below!


  1. When my dad got a vasectomy. I asked him why my mom didn’t get her tubes tied like a lot of women did. He told my that my mom had given birth twice, he didn’t want to her have the added discomfort of the surgery and he thought he owed it to her. 30 years later I got my vasectomy because I wanted to do the same loving thing for my own wife. I accidentally found a urologist who put men in a twilight sleep which meant I was spared the pain a a local anesthetic. There was some discomfort for a few days after but it was offset by my pride in having gotten snipped and the love of my wife. Also, the jokes made by and about me mp were very funny.

    If this isn’t enough to make the writer’s husband take the plunge, then freezing is an option. She can freeze him out of intercourse until he does the right thing.

  2. I don’t know that there is a way to convince him if he’s completely unwilling, though it sounds like a fair compromise. I was fortunate that my boyfriend and I had the “no kids” talk early, and he got it done voluntarily, as neither of us want kids in the future regardless of our relationship status. Would he be willing to merely discuss I with a doctor and then possibly reconsider?

  3. Years ago I had a conversation with a reproductive health doctor about this. She startled me by flat out declaring it’s completely unethical to pressure one’s male partner into getting a vasectomy. Or, by extension, one’s female partner into getting her tubes tied. Her point was it’s not about the risk, it’s about no one having a say over another individual’s bodily autonomy.

    It’s not, on the other hand, unethical to go for lost_in_translation’s alternative and decline high-risk-of-pregnancy activities.

    That said, in terms of surgical sterilization there’s a big timing factor when assessing risk. There are large risks to have a tubal ligation as a stand-alone procedure. A vasectomy is a much lower risk. It’s slightly less risky than a vasectomy to have a planned tubal ligation during a c-section since there’s already an incision. At one point it was believed that transcervical sterilization was even safer as there’s no incision, however for at least one version of this a number of women have reported adverse side effects.

    So, yeah, answering which is safer a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. But not too complicated.

    As for the answer of how to ask your partner to get a vasectomy and/or reassure him it’s not that bad, I’d recommend suggesting that he ask men in his life what their experience was both immediately after and long term. Short term most of us were pretty @$%!% sore for 24 hours though ice packs and analgesics help.. Long term most men say they’re very happy with the results, relieved, more relaxed about sex, and often proud to be able to take responsibility for contraception. Very, very few report that sex is less enjoyable compared to the majority who enjoy it as much or even more.


  4. Been there, snipped that. No more complicated sex. Just have it when you both are up for it. Vasectomy is far less risky and complicated than having her get her tubes tied. Minor out patient surgery with a day or two of discomfort. Grow a pair and get it done to show her that you care about her and that you’re willing to take on your fair share of responsibility for your family’s reproductive health.

  5. No idea how to convince a guy to get a vasectomy other than to say “no entry” allowed for the Trojan penis. Keep the Greeks on the outside until they’ve been disarmed.

  6. Allow me to make this even more confused. There is a very real risk of short-term side effects. There is also medical evidence that vasectomies have long-term health risks. The Mayo Clinic site (http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/vasectomy/details/risks/cmc-20177731) lists both of these plus (far nastier) unconfirmed risks. (Fortunately, prostate cancer no longer seems to be one of them.)

    Johnny’s probably right that the main fear is psychological but that doesn’t make the medical risks irrelevant.

    As he suggests, have you considered the idea of having your tubes tied? This is reversible and does not seem to pose the same long-term possible risks that vasectomy may cause.

    Yes, the short term side effects of having one’s tubes tied are about the same as for a vasectomy, and the idea that women should suffer rather than men is distasteful. The idea that you should do the hard work of maintaining your marriage is also distasteful, and I cannot ignore the possibility that your resentment might poison your relationship. But do not let the excellent be the enemy of the good.

    OK. Now let every woman reading this flame me. Let them flame Johnny too. We probably deserve it.

    1. We’re not going to flame you AlanK (we love you!), but we’re going to take serious issue with your assertions that tube tying is the better, safer, easier choice. A review of data on both forms of sterilization from 1966 to 1999 found that “Compared with a vasectomy, BTL [bilateral tubal ligation] is 20 times more likely to have major complications, 10 to 37 times more likely to fail, and cost three times as much.” Boom!

      1. Fair enough. As an XY human being I may have been more aware of the long-term risks of vasectomy over tubal ligation. But I DID mention the immediate unattractive side-effects of such ligation and my willingness to suggest it anyway was the reason I felt flaming me would be only just.

  7. I mean, I get your logic – you’ve borne enough physical trauma in the name of family planning, his turn now – but you can’t make your partner get surgery.

    Pain? What, mild pain for a day or two from a routine snip? Bullshit – he’s not worried about the pain. He doesn’t want to be severed from his nuts. We’re attached to those. Kind of a major part of our identities as men, frankly, even as vilified as testiculocentric views of masculine identity are these days.

    You can’t make him do this. You told him what you want. He doesn’t want to do it. If it’s important to you, get your tubes tied. Because I know you wouldn’t support pressuring a partner to get surgery.

    1. We actually think she is kind of ok with pressuring her partner to get surgery, esp after she’s undergone a c-section. Which we’re not saying is right…or wrong. But can we just acknowledge that there’s a difference between surgery under general anesthetic (tubal ligation) and surgery with a local anesthetic (vasectomy)? It’s just kind of precious to hear men casually say “go get your tubes tied” when that is the riskier, more complicated, more expensive procedure. 😉

      1. Yeah, sure. The nut-snip is the simpler surgery, and I see it VINFV’s way, and I agree with her sense that the fair thing would be for him to get the snip. But if he’s not going to she can’t make him and that leaves taking matters into her own hands as the only option.

        I can’t help but see a double standard in play here though. Bodily autonomy is a cornerstone of feminism. If a man tried to get a woman to undergo surgery she didn’t want – reproductive-area surgery, no less – he’d be called abusive no matter what the circumstances. We all know how women feel about men telling them what to do with their bodies, and I feel that goes both ways.

        Then again, if he’s skirting the issue and not giving a firm “no,” I guess it’s still open season. Pressure away.

Comments are closed.