Original research article| Volume 88, ISSUE 3, P376-381, September 2013

“We never thought of a vasectomy”: a qualitative study of men and women's counseling around sterilization



      Sterilization is the most commonly used method of contraception in the United States; however, little is known about how providers counsel about these procedures or the information patients desire. In this study, we explore male and female experiences of sterilization counseling and their perspectives on ideal sterilization counseling.

      Study design

      In-depth individual and group interviews were conducted with 37 heterosexual couples between the ages of 25 and 55 years. Each couple had reached their desired family size. Interviews were recorded and transcribed using NVivo software and analyzed using modified grounded theory.


      Men and women differed in their experiences of sterilization counseling. Women commonly received counseling on female sterilization but not vasectomy, while men rarely discussed either form of sterilization with their providers. Both men and women desired more information about sterilization.


      Contraceptive counseling of couples who have completed childbearing does not routinely include men or the option of vasectomy, despite the advantages of this method with respect to safety, efficacy and cost. Family planning and primary care providers have an important role in ensuring that couples are aware of all their options and can make an informed decision about their contraception.


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