Men across the nation took matters into their own hands by signing up for vasectomies in the days after the Supreme Court ruling in June that delegated abortion regulation to the states.
One physician has made it his mission to help.
Charles W. Monteith, Jr, MD, medical director of his own practice, A Personal Choice, in Raleigh, North Carolina, said that before the Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson , he was booked “2-3 weeks” in advance for vasectomies.
“Now I am booked out 3 months,” he said.
In September, Monteith launched a training program for physicians interested in providing vasectomies in their offices. The course, which Monteith conceived in 2021 before the Supreme Court’s latest ruling, offers one-on-one training and mentorship for physicians who want to learn to perform minimally invasive vasectomies under local anesthesia.
In addition to training, Monteith provides all the necessary equipment, including eye loupes, exam room surgical furniture, and instrument sterilization system. The program can be completed over 4 weekends and costs $38,000; participants typically perform 40 vasectomy procedures during the training period.
Monteith, who trained in obstetrics and gynecology, said that he has performed over 7000 no-scalpel vasectomies since 2008.
A Floodgate Opened
Requests for vasectomy consultations at the end of June — when the Dobbs decision was announced — came from men of all ages but particularly from younger men with fewer than two children, Monteith said.
Prior to the ruling, men with no children accounted for 10% of his patient roster; now, he added, “some days, it is 80%.”
With the increase in demand came a unique opportunity for more doctors to offer the service. The majority of vasectomies in the United States, around 75%, are performed by urologists, but 25% are performed by specialists in family medicine or general surgery.
Some research shows that urologists are typically unwilling to train family physicians on the procedure, citing concerns over competition and not enough cases to go around. But Doug Stein, MD, a urologist and director of Vasectomy and Reversal Centers of Florida in Tampa, offers a similar training for physicians, most of whom are family physicians. Opening the door for more men to get a vasectomy may be a net good, according to Stein.
“There’s a lot of trust required for vasectomy,” Stein noted. “Men are probably more likely to go to their family medicine doctor,” that they have a rapport with than a specialist they’ve never met.
Alex Shteynshlyuger, MD, director of urology at New York Urology Specialists in New York City, said that he supports family physicians performing vasectomies. However, he cautioned that like any other procedure, complications can arise, and thorough training is essential.
“While complications are not common, they do occur, including pain, bleeding, infection, granuloma formation, and fistula tract,” Shteynshlyuger said. Family physicians must also know when to refer patients to a specialist, he added.
Monteith said that safety considerations are why he designed his training program for clinicians who want to offer 10-20 vasectomies per week.
Monteith sees his work in teaching family care physicians on how to perform vasectomies similar to his previous role as medical director of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina. There, he helped provide family planning options, mostly to women. Now, he offers the options to men.
“Most of our public health efforts seem to be focused on female reproduction,” Monteith said. “It is never a good idea to let specialists be the main providers of a preventive healthcare treatment or service, kind of like only allowing patients to go to a cardiologist to get a prescription for cholesterol medication. I needed to do what I could do to increase the number of providers offering easier access to vasectomy.”
Sharon Brandwein is a freelance writer who specializes in parenting and health and is a certified sleep science coach.