Recession-hit tradesmen behind big rise in number of vasectomies

It’s a 10-minute operation... It’s equivalent to going to the dentist and getting a filling done.

The number of vasectomies being carried out on recession-hit tradesmen has shot up since the end the Celtic Tiger, according to a leading vasectomy specialist.

Out-of-work carpenters, plasterers and builders are availing of the operation under their newly obtained medical cards as they can’t afford the arrival of another child in their family.

Dr John O’Keeffe — who has carried out more than 7,000 vasectomies in the Morehampton Clinic in Dublin — estimates there has been a 40% rise in demand for the operation over the past year in his practice.

He said the biggest increase is among unemployed tradesmen, who want to ensure their family is complete.

He said: “I would estimate over the last year there has been about a 40% increase, and one of the reasons is vasectomies are now paid for by medical cards. The peak age is 38 and it’s only been in the last three or four years that men in their late 30s have had medical cards because — before that they were all working.

“All these guys with medical cards coming to us for vasectomies are electricians and plumbers and plasterers who are out of work at the moment.”

He also said the increased demand for the 10-minute operation coincided with the end of the recent baby boom.

He said: “I’ve been doing vasectomies for the past 25 years, probably more than anyone, and we are certainly seeing more vasectomies now. It’s the aftermath of the baby boom. We had a huge baby boom two years ago.

“People have the babies and they don’t want any more. The end of the baby boom sort of corresponded with the end of the Celtic Tiger. Now people are looking at the economic realities and saying they can’t afford another one.”

The doctor said there is also much less fear associated with the routine procedure among the male population.

He said: “More and more men are prepared to have a vasectomy now.

“Years ago they thought: ‘Oh God, if I get a vasectomy everything will drop off and I’ll never be the same bloke again’.

“It’s a 10-minute operation. From a purely physical point of view, it’s equivalent to going to the dentist and getting a filling done.”

The age of men having vasectomies has also increased in recent years to the late 30s as men are marrying later and having children later in life.

And he said the €500 procedure is “pretty much painless” for men undergoing the surgery in 2014.

He said: “We’re doing a keyhole, no scalpel method and it’s only one tiny little puncture wound to the skin. There are no stitches. It is a very minimal operation.

“We charge €500. We do two sperms counts afterwards. Most people just do one. I don’t trust that and I do two, and I also have a nurse with me which most people don’t have. I am ultra cautious.”

While many vasectomies are carried out in clinics, privately and under the medical card system, there were 393 carried out in acute hospitals in Ireland in 2012 compared to 361 in 2010.


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