Care and Feeding

I’ve Given My Husband an Ultimatum. Get a Vasectomy or Else.

I gave him three months’ notice.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I’ve been married to my husband for 19 years, and we have three teenage daughters together. He’s a great man, provider, and dad, and we all love him dearly.

Once the news broke about Roe v. Wade being overturned, I was furious, and I will continue to be furious for the foreseeable future. One thing that came from this is that I’m done being the one who deals with all of the birth control going forward. My husband and I have a very healthy sex life, but last week I gave him three months’ notice to get a vasectomy or else we’re going to use condoms. He thinks it is incredibly selfish of me to make him endure a surgery when all I have to do is “pop some pills” instead. Not that I want our girls to know about our sex life, but I think I’m setting an example for them to demand more from the men they choose to partner with. He’s really upset with me, but I don’t want to budge on this especially since we both have no desire to have any more children. Am I wrong? How can I approach him in a way to make him understand?

—No More Pills

Dear No More Pills,

I’m firmly in the 64 percent of Americans who didn’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade, and even though I’m a man, I share your anger. There’s no need for me to rant about the Supreme Court’s decision any further than that.

You’re not alone. I’ve talked to many women since the news broke who are simply refusing to bear the weight of handling birth control responsibilities, and quite frankly, I applaud them for doing so. Men have skated by for far too long in that regard, and it’s time that we take more responsibility if we claim to care about the women we’re partnered with.

If you and your husband choose not to have any more kids, then I highly recommend that he gets a vasectomy. I know there’s always a sense of heightened anxiety for men due to the thought of a doctor operating on us below the belt, but you need to reassure him that it is truly one of the simplest surgical procedures one can have. I had a vasectomy in 2018, and the procedure started at 7 AM and I was in my car driving home at 7:45 AM the same morning—not to mention, the pain was a 3 on a scale from 1-10. Regarding my recovery, I kept a bag of frozen peas between my legs while I sat on the couch watching college basketball, and within three days I was back to normal. Honestly, it was like a mini-vacation for me. All of my plumbing works fine, everything still feels great, and I feel good knowing that I took the responsibility for birth control.

Your husband’s comment about pill-popping is incredibly ignorant, and I would advise him that many women endure unpleasant side-effects from taking birth control pills. Not to mention, it can be expensive to be on a continuous birth control regimen. A vasectomy is a relatively inexpensive one-time expense that’s safe and easy. It’s an absolute no-brainer for men to get one if you know for sure that you don’t want to have any more children. Plus vasectomies can often successfully be reversed, so he might be able to change his mind.

I think you should absolutely hold firm on this. Have your husband do some research by talking to some of his friends or colleagues who’ve had the procedure (I bet almost all of them will have similar experiences to mine), and also have him schedule an appointment with his urologist to give him some peace of mind.

It’s not “incredibly selfish” of you to do this. Actually, it’s incredibly selfish of him not to ask, “I can see how the Supreme Court’s ruling is upsetting you. How can I be a more helpful partner?”