Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Irish Times: Increase in single fathers opting for vasectomy

Health Correspondent

Wed, Sep 22, 2010

THE NUMBERS of single men opting for vasectomy has increased over the past decade, according to the latest annual report from the Irish Family Planning Association.

The single men seeking the procedure had all fathered children.

Dr Caitriona Henchion, medical director of the association, said the men, mainly in their 30s and 40s, were supporting children they had had in a relationship, but did not want to take on the financial burden or responsibility of any more “and were even cagey about new relationships” as a result.

The association, along with releasing its annual report for 2009 yesterday, published the findings of a survey of men who opted for vasectomy in the last 20 years.

More than 3,000 vasectomies were carried out by the association over that period. A review of 328 of the cases found the procedure had been most popular among couples in their 30s with two or three children.

“Vasectomy is seen by many men as a way of removing the contraceptive burden from their partner when their family is complete . . . It has become a very acceptable choice thanks to some brave men who broke the taboo and spoke about their own experience of vasectomy, such as the recently deceased broadcaster Gerry Ryan,” Dr Henchion said.

The number of single men opting for vasectomy is still small overall. The association report says that in the 1990/1991 period its clinics had no vasectomy clients who said they were single. By 1998/1999 2 per cent of 180 clients described themselves as single, increasing to 8 per cent of 106 clients in 2007/2008.

Asked about the fact that there were fewer men seeking the procedure at association clinics in 2007/2008 than 10 years earlier, Dr Henchion said she believed this was because the service was now widely available through GPs.

Meanwhile, the association’s report indicates it had to refuse appointments to about 3,000 medical card patients last year due to a cut in funding from the Health Service Executive.

Those who could not be accommodated were referred back to their GP. The association said this was entirely unsatisfactory, given that clients were referred to it by their GP, or sought association services because their GP would not or could not provide a comprehensive family planning service.

Dr Henchion said association clinics had funding only to see a certain number of medical card holders each month.

The annual report reveals 18 women attended association clinics for counselling last year after negative experiences at the hands of rogue agencies claiming to provide crisis pregnancy counselling.

The report said the association was certain the figures represented “the tip of the iceberg”.

The association was urging the bringing forward of statutory regulation for all pregnancy advice services, prescribing codes of practice and standards, the report said.

© 2010 The Irish Times