Surgical tools
Lakeland practitioners are reporting an uptick in demand for vasectomies, leading to slightly longer wait times for the procedure. | Ibrahim Boran, Pixabay

Local urologists are reporting an increase in men seeking vasectomies since the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe. v. Wade. But with a limited number of practitioners in Lakeland, scheduling the procedure is taking longer than it used to.

Vasectomy is an outpatient surgical procedure that prevents men from releasing sperm.

Dr. Kenneth Essig, the sole urologist with BayCare Medical Group in Polk County, said he has seen an increase in patients since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last summer.

The ruling declared that there is no constitutional right to an abortion, overturning the precedent set by Roe v. Wade in 1973 and paving the way for states to write their own policies. The Florida Legislature is currently considering a bill that would prohibit abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions for rape, incest, and dire medical complications. 

“I’ve seen more, and younger patients who are proactive about taking birth-control precautions since Roe v. Wade was overturned,” Essig said. 

Google Trends recorded a dramatic increase in web searches for the term “vasectomy” in the weeks after a leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s ruling was published by Politico on May 2 and again after the official opinion was released on June 24.

Google searches for "vasectomy" spiked in June 2022, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Google searches for “vasectomy” spiked in the U.S. and Florida in June 2022, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. | LkldNow infographic (View a larger version)

Essig said he completed 91 vasectomies in 2022, compared with 61 in 2021. Patients typically have to wait one to three weeks to receive a vasectomy in his office, but sometimes throughout the year, that wait time can increase from four to six weeks. 

Dr. John Curington, with the Vasectomy and Reversal Centers of Florida (also known as VasWeb), said the practice’s call volume tripled immediately after the decision, but has normalized somewhat now. 

VasWeb billboards on I-75 advertise vasectomies. | FDOT

The practice – famous for highway billboards touting the procedure – is one of the main vasectomy providers in the state. One advertisement reads: “Child Support: $600 every month. Vasectomy: $600 once.”

“In general, the rate of calls for vasectomies has increased,” Curington said. He estimates he’s averaging 150 vasectomies a month now, versus 140 per month before Roe. V. Wade was overturned. 

Curington and Dr. Doug Stein, the other doctor in his practice, used to offer vasectomies at Planned Parenthood in Lakeland, but they stopped doing so in 2019. The website for the Lakeland branch of Planned Parenthood now encourages patients to schedule an appointment in the duo’s Lutz office, about an hour away. 

Curington said the decision to stop traveling to clinics around the state and focus on providing services out of their clinic in Lutz meant he and Stein can spend more time serving patients. However, due to the increase in demand, a patient attempting to schedule the procedure should expect to wait six weeks for an appointment.

Jennifer Baker, a spokesperson for Watson Clinic, said it has one physician, Dr. Mark Swierzewski, who is doing a limited number of vasectomies at this time. She said the clinic is in the process of recruiting another urologist. 

According to Lakeland Regional Health spokesperson Kendra Kramer, the medical group has four urologists who perform vasectomies. Kramer said patients would typically see a two to four week wait period from the time of scheduling their procedure date. 

When we called Lakeland Regional Health at the beginning of February, a scheduler advised that Dr. Chester Wilmot, Dr. Rakesh Patel, Dr. Peter Hinds and Dr. David Bowers all offer vasectomies. She said the patient would have to first do a consultation with the doctor which couldn’t be scheduled until April or May and then the procedure would probably not be able to take place until June. 

Sharing responsibility for contraception

Nationwide, about 500,000 men have a vasectomy every year, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Curington described the typical vasectomy patient as a “42-year-old man who is married and has two children,” although the number of child-free men under 30 inquiring about the procedure has increased. 

Billy Jason, 36, of Lakeland, went to Curington for a vasectomy in March of 2021. The father of an 8-year-old daughter said he was tired of seeing his wife struggle with birth control and didn’t want any more children.

“My wife had several complications with her birth control over the years; one even ended up having to be surgically removed. After watching her go through all that, it made sense for me to consider getting a vasectomy,” explained Jason. 

He chose Curington because a friend went there previously. He took two days off to recover from the procedure and then returned to his work-from-home job. 

“No real pain, for me. I did feel the tugging of the tubes in my lower abdomen. (It was) nothing unbearable,” Jason recalled. “No side effects that I can think of. Absolutely no regrets at all. If I could do it again, I absolutely would.”

Jason said his vasectomy has made for a happier marriage and relationship. He believes more men should consider having the procedure.

“I have heard the same crap from several other men, ‘ain’t nobody getting near my junk with something sharp,’ yet expect their wife or girlfriend to go through the painful procedures of the birth control tubes and IUDs, etc. To me, that’s just selfish. One 45-minute procedure can save a ton of hassle and trouble for your wife or girlfriend,” Jason said. 

Curington specializes in no-scalpel vasectomy that doesn’t require stitches. He said men with office jobs typically return to work the following day, while those with more physical jobs generally return to work after two days of rest. 

Essig said he prefers to do conventional vasectomies, where small cuts in the scrotum are made to gain access to the vas tubes. The cuts are closed with stitches.

Both methods are performed as outpatient procedures. Once inside the scrotum, the doctors use various methods to block the tubes to prevent sperm from entering semen.

Vasectomies don’t immediately prevent pregnancies. There is a three-month period after the procedure before the man typically stops releasing sperm. Patients are encouraged to submit a semen sample for analysis three months after the vasectomy to ensure the procedure is effective.

Vasectomies are reversible, but urologists caution that not all reversals are successful.

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Stephanie Claytor has been a broadcast and digital journalist in Lakeland since 2016, covering Polk County for Bay News 9 and currently free-lancing for LkldNow. She is an author of travel and children's books.

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