March Madness, Vasectomies and the Really Manly Man

In Spring a young man’s fancy turns to…. vasectomies??

You may have seen something of this in the news this week. Apparently, some urologists have noted as much as a 50% increase in the number of vasectomies scheduled during or just before NCAA basketball’s MARCH MADNESS tournament.

The reasoning is this: If you’re going to be lounging around on the couch for a couple of days anyway, eyes glued to the television screen watching college basketball, why not have that vasectomy you’ve been thinking about?

One clinic—Urology Limited of Elgin, Illinois—has even advertised a new clinical promotion this week, offering what they term a “3-Point Shot Plan”. The Plan includes one vasectomy, one free pizza, and one weekend excuse to watch college basketball.

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The American Urological Association reports that the vasectomy is one of the most common birth control methods, after condoms, hormonal methods and tubal ligation. With roughly 500,000 performed each year across America, a vasectomy is a fairly simple procedure, typically taking only 15 to 20 minutes.

The procedure involves cutting and sealing the vas deferentia, also called the ductus deferentia—two thick-walled tubes in the male reproductive system that transport sperm from the epididymis, where they are stored prior to ejaculation. After the surgery, men are advised to limit their activity and to rest for one or two days before resuming normal activity.

*     *     *     *     *

So, our contemporary culture asks, if you feel that your family is just the right size, and if you’re going to be sitting around on the couch all weekend anyway, why not just take this opportunity to get yourself “fixed” so that you don’t have to worry about condoms or birth control pills?

Well, here’s one reason: The Catholic Church teaches that vasectomies, like other forms of intentional birth control, are always sinful. Instead, married couples are asked to allow God to be God—to welcome His gift of new life, according to his plan. In some cases, a couple may determine that for good reasons (such as health, financial concerns, or family size), they may for a time prefer not to bring another child into the world. For those couples who, after prayer, determine that God is not calling them to have another child at this time, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a suitable alternative to surgical or chemical birth control.

What makes NFP different from those other methods of pregnancy prevention? NFP is based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.

NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife.

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But don’t take my word for it.

Pope Paul VI, in his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, explained that the Church always opposes actions which prevent procreation:

. . .the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children . . . Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.” (Humanae Vitae)

The Catechism of the Catholic Churchexplains the objection to sterilization or contraception another way:

The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2399)

And Pope John Paul II, quoted in L’Osservatore Romano in 1983, said,

Contraception is to be judged so profoundly unlawful as to be never, for any reason, justified. To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God.” (Pope John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, October, 10, 1983)

*     *     *     *     *

So who are the Really Manly Men to whom I refer in the title?

Oh, that’s easy:

  • Really Manly Men are the men who love their wives enough to seek their good, and not to lead them into sexual sin by encouraging or forcing contraception upon them.
  • They are the men who see God in His creation, and most especially in His most precious creation, a child—and who stand up to the challenge of raising up children for the Lord. Really Manly Men are not afraid to say “yes”, to learn about the reasons for the Church’s seemingly difficult teachings.
  • Really Manly Men love their wives and their children, more than they love their own sexual gratification.
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  • oregon nurse

    “3-Point Shot Plan”. The Plan includes one vasectomy, one free pizza, and one weekend excuse to watch college basketball.

    I can remember back when there was a lot of discussion around the (un) ethics of doctors advertising their services. It’s bad enough that plastic surgeons do this stuff but this is a truly disgusting example of what professionals then feared would happen – medicine as crass consumerism. It’s no wonder they get sued all the time. When your service is nothing more than a ‘product’ then your ‘customer’ expects you to deliver perfection or they’ll want their money back, with damages.

  • Zimmerman

    I was not aware that a vasectomy was sinful according to Catholic teaching. I pray for forgiveness from our Lord God. I’m sorry I did not know this was not allowed.

    • You might talk to a priest about it.

    • I suggest reading Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn.

    • Biff Spiff

      Definitely talk to your priest about this. Maybe even consider having your wife present as well.

    • John Mallon

      There are doctors who will reverse it.

  • John Mallon

    When I lost my fertility to prostate cancer in 1995, I wanted to punch out any guy who so much as joked about getting a vasectomy. It is sickening and selfish. Why any man would want to give up the most marvelous gift we have—that of fathering children—is beyond me.

    • JohnE_o

      Just a guess, but probably because he didn’t want to father children.

      • John Mallon

        I wanted very badly to father children. Thanks for your glibness of my cancer.

        • JohnE_o

          Sucks about your cancer, but not everyone feels the same way as you do about fathering children.

    • Connor Bannion

      Oh there we go – another Catholic promising violence to anyone not sharing his beliefs. I’ve not had a vasectomy myself but if I ever decide to I’ll let you know. Punch me out? Hmm, that’ll be interesting. The only thing sickening and selfish is the arrogance of the roman catholic church.

      • John Mallon

        IT’s not the arrogance of the Church, it’s just mine.

  • Rob B.

    In other words, St. Joseph was a “manly man.” I say amen to that, Ms. Schiffer!

  • Tim

    What is the female counterpart to Really Manly Men? Is there a female counterpart to the non-Really Manly Man?

    After 3 children and 2 miscarriages my wife pressured me into getting a vasectomy. Several Catholic friends of ours, married couples, had already done this. A Catholic doctor performed mine. He and his wife were very involved at the Catholic school.
    I remember his Hispanic (not sure if she was Catholic) office assistant telling me how her husband “ran” when he was about to go under the knife. But she was determined to get him back in the office. She was finished with 2 kids.

    The light in the darkness for me was that the experience caused me to think, ask questions, and learn about my faith and what my church teaches. I went to confession and also spoke with a friend who is now a father of seven. He’s the only other person I’ve revealed this to and he was amazingly compassionate about the situation. I agree the March Madness trend highlighted in the article is sad and troubling but I would have to say the same about the stereotyping and tone of the piece and in some of the comments.

  • Even outside of Catholic teaching, getting a vasectomy is crazy. A guy who had one done described the proceure and you would have to be insane to go through it.

  • FredZ

    I’m missing something.

    If, as stated in the article “…excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means”, then how is NFP any different than other *intentional* methods of contraception?

    NFP is intentional, requires some planning, and is specifically intended to prevent procreation, just as stated above. Vasectomies are also intentional – they just require less planning in the future to achieve the same desired results.

    • just me

      NFP is different because there is no sexual intercourse in which procreation is prevented. NFP prevents procreation by just not having sex. There is no act to contracept. All methods of contraception are done specifically to render the sexual act infertile and/or hostile to life. NFP is not contraception.

      • oregon nurse

        That’s putting a very fine point (i would say too fine) on the meaning of contraception, i.e., avoidance of conception in a sexual active woman. It’s one of my biggest complaints about the NFP narrative that comes across as hypocritical and rationalizing.

        Everyone knows that the whole point of using NFP is to continue to have regular sexual relations while avoiding the natural outcome of regular sexual relations through the use of certain techniques and technology. That’s pretty contraceptive in it’s totality, and certainly in it’s intention, regardless of whether each individual act is or not, and why it’s only supposed to be rarely used.

        Edit – yes, I know NFP can also be used procreatively.

  • Reets46

    How sad that people in the pews don’t know these things. There is so much that the church is silent about when it comes to BC…
    48 years ago, my husband had a vasectomy. We had the “perfect family” one girl and one boy. We were out of the church and thought nothing of it. Our marriage was almost destroyed because of this decision. It was the height of the sexual revolution and we were deeply involved with it’s “free love” philosophy. It’s a long story, but we eventually came back to the church and our marriage was saved. We were exposed to Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae and decided we wanted to get the vasectomy reversed. My OB/GYN at the time was a big promoter of NFP and told us he knew of a doc who was having good results reversing vasectomies. The CC didn’t require us to get it reversed once we confessed our sin, but we decided to do it anyway. About six months later I was pregnant. We had two more wonderful daughters and one of them is a Creighton Practitioner and has three of our only grandchildren. God is good.

  • Angel

    Vasectomy destroys God’s fertility system. That’s why it’s a mortal sin.
    The devil, a strategist, doesn’t want anymore people to go to heaven.

  • bzelbub

    If God really wants my wife to become pregnant again he will reverse the vasectomy for his glory and honor. Otherwise I think five kids are enough if we really need another child to SHOW just how Catholic we are, we will adopt.

  • Joseph Jordan

    You leave out when the wife or partner are the one requiring the man to do it. I have not met one man who made this decision on their own but was coerced into doing it by the woman and thus sacrificing themselves to them. I relate your attack on the man’s manliness after a vasectomy to an inappropriate sidewalk counselor at an abortion clinic questioning the womanhood of a woman coerced into abortion. In my case and every man I have spoken too, a partner had required this of the man, then after it was done usually went on to have children with someone else, leaving us with a sense of loss. You should know what you are talking about before you write an article attacking an entire group of people affected by this much like women affected by abortion. “Correction without charity is ‘a slap in the face'” Pope Francis