From Our 2009 Archives

With the Economy Down, Vasectomy Rates Are Up

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors around the United States are reporting a sharp increase in the number of vasectomies performed since the economy soured last year, with one noting that many of his clients are from the beleaguered financial industry.

Their best guess is that the trend is due both to a decreased desire to have children because of the expense involved, and an increased desire to get such medical procedures done before their jobs -- and health insurance -- disappear.

Since November, Dr. Marc Goldstein, surgeon-in-chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine in New York City, said his practice has seen about 48 percent more vasectomy consultations compared to the same time the previous year.

Nearly 50 percent of the patients in 2008 were employed within the financial industry, and more than 36 percent were seen since September, according to unpublished data from the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Goldstein said his appointment secretary was the first to notice the uptick in the number of men requesting vasectomy consultations.

"I used to do one to two every Friday," he said. "Now I'm doing three on Fridays. There's been a significant increase."

"Nobody came in and said they were having a vasectomy because the [stock] market crashed," Goldstein added. "Most are saying, 'We've been thinking about it for a long time,' and [the crash] influenced their decision. They're saying with the cost of private school for three kids, they can't afford to have another one."

Dr. Harry Fisch, a professor of clinical urology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City, said: "The issue about kids is often a financial one, and, if finances are low, it makes sense that people would be less likely to have more kids. And if they're thinking about it, this is the time."

Dr. Stephen Jones, chairman of the department of regional urology at the Cleveland Clinic, noticed a trend toward more vasectomies in late November, with a 75 percent increase in the past few months.

"We were doing 40 to 45 a week, and then it went to 70 to 75 each week," he said. "Some patients were concerned about losing their insurance, but it seems to me more of it is the idea of 'I can't commit myself to raising another child in uncertain times.' "

Dr. Charles Lynne, professor of urology at the University of Miami School of Medicine, remembers a similar trend back in 1991, when Miami-based Eastern Airlines shut down, and he saw a rise in vasectomies in his practice.

"Eastern was one of the biggest employers, and employees still had insurance," he explained.

SOURCES: J. Stephen Jones, M.D., chairman, department of regional urology, Cleveland Clinic; Harry Fisch, M.D., professor, clinical urology, New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, New York City; Marc Goldstein, M.D., surgeon-in-chief, male reproductive medicine & surgery, Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine, New York City; Charles Lynne, M.D., professor, urology, University of Miami School of Medicine

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