World Vasectomy Day (WVD) celebrated its fourth successful year, led by co-founder Jonathan Stack. It’s now spread to over 50 countries. In India, WVD is even an official event.
This year, the effort from WVD translated to over 7,000 vasectomies. Over 70 of the vasectomies were performed in Nairobi where the event was held. That’s more vasectomies than were performed all of last year in the country.
WVD managed a media campaign leading up to the event. This campaign included starting a trending Twitter topic, setting up enormous billboards throughout Nairobi, and landing on major media like the Guardian and BBC.
WVD also set up multiple lectures and trained new vasectomists. For a sustainable vasectomy program, WVD recognizes that it will need to not only have new vasectomists but also a culture where the demand is high enough for men (or government on their behalf) to pay for a vasectomy.
WVD co-founder Dr. Doug Stein had a similar thought when asked what it would take for sustainability: “Pay doctors enough on a per-case basis that they are motivated to promote and provide quality vasectomy services, as is the case in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.”
So why are vasectomies so important?
Dr. Stein explained,”Vasectomy is one of only two male options currently available. Is it more important than condoms? Probably not. A world without condoms would probably be worse than a world without vasectomy. But it is a great option overall primarily because of its effectiveness.”
There’s no other option that men have which is nearly as effective. That’s also why we were asked to talk about prospective male contraceptives and their acceptability during WVD’s main venue at The Kenya National Theatre.
In our presentation we focused on four components affecting acceptability: (1) method of delivery, (2) side effects, (3) method of action, and (4) effectiveness. One takeaway was that while any new male contraceptive would make a big impact, no single male contraceptive will sufficiently meet everyone’s needs. Just like vasectomies and condoms fill needs in particular circumstances, so must new male contraceptives. Another takeaway was that we need to focus on late-acting, non-hormonal approaches.
Experts in reproductive health from around the world came to talk at the event. The event’s presentation took on a new craft this year as vasectomies were performed live in silhouette on either side of the stage. This added an entirely new artistic style to the event.
WVD now has its sights on next year’s venue, potentially India. There, WVD will try to repeat its success, spreading the news and resources for a male contraceptive option. It will spread its message for families, couples, and individuals so that we can all share the responsibility of family planning.
At the end of the day, taking on this responsibility to make a better world for those around you is—as WVD puts it—an act of love.