Friday, November 13, 2015
Masterton man Motu Sturgeon knows all about having a vasectomy – he’s had two! And, he hopes his willingness to talk about having the “snip” might encourage other Pasifika men to consider vasectomy.
Of New Zealand and Niuean descent, Motu was in his late 20s when he had his first vasectomy after a pregnancy scare convinced him that he didn’t want any more than the two children he and his partner already had.
At the appointment at a local medical centre, a visiting specialist used a method called the “Chinese way” to make two small incisions in Motu’s scrotum to access and snip the vas deferens. No stitches were required afterwards. Motu’s brother-in-law had a vasectomy at the same time – in fact, Motu had made an appointment for both of them.
A change of heart, and a wish to have a daughter, prompted Motu and his partner to seek out a reversal around nine years ago.
Motu says while he was lucky that the reversal worked, and he now has his much wanted daughter, men need to be sure that they have finished having their families before they have a vasectomy because the reversal is expensive, difficult and only around 70 per cent effective.
“The vasectomy only cost around $400 but when it came to the reversal we had to find several thousand dollars – it was a lot of money for something we weren’t sure would work,” Motu says.
Three years ago Motu had his second – and he’s confident – his last vasectomy. This one used a slightly different method and required a couple of stitches. Scar tissue from the earlier reversal meant the operation took a little longer than the first.
Despite this Motu says he has no regrets about his decision to have a vasectomy (twice) – the procedure wasn’t a big deal, didn’t take long, didn’t hurt too much and didn’t impact on his performance. If anything he says it’s a bonus to know that there can never be another pregnancy scare.
Word of the vasectomies got around the bakery where he works, no thanks to his brother-in-law making a joke of an incident which happened after the vasectomy – Motu fainted in the medical centre’s chemist shop after not resting for the recommended 20 minutes. He wasted no time in telling people of the small incident in the Masterton bakery. Motu says his brother-in-laws’ willingness to talk and joke about the procedures means there have been many conversations and laughs about the op while people are buying their lunchtime pie.
And, while the topic doesn’t seem to dent people’s appetites - they always have the same questions, Motu says. The first one is always: will it have any effect on their sex life, then they want to know how painful it is and how long it will take.
Wairarapa doctor Simon Snook says New Zealand is often cited as a country with a high vasectomy rate. The data came from a telephone interview study from the late 1990s which talked with European men only. So, the reality is that we really don’t know what New Zealand’s vasectomy rate is – nor what the rate is for Pasifika and Māori men.
Dr Snook will be completing the first vasectomy in the world on 13 November – World Vasectomy Day. The theme for this year’s event is “Acts of Love” which he says is so appropriate for couples who’ve completed their families or who don’t want children, as the procedure is so much less invasive than the sterilisation process for women.
“Sterilisation for women is called a tubal ligation – it involves a general anaesthetic, abdominal surgery and more discomfort. And, to top it off, a tubal ligation is less effective than a vasectomy,” Dr Snook says.
“By comparison, a vasectomy takes 10 to 15 minutes and is done under local anaesthetic. Men are advised to stay away from strenuous physical activities for seven days but men who have more sedentary jobs can return to work the following day.
“It just makes sense for this to be something a man takes care of for his partner – it’s a real act of love.”
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.