An Australian doctor has announced he will be live webcasting vasectomies and allowing local audiences to see the procedure in the flesh, so to speak. But this voyeurism is actually for a good cause.
Dr. Doug Stein plans to hold the live audience event at Adelaide’s Royal Institution of Australia this October 18, which if you didn’t know is to be the inaugural World Vasectomy Day.
Stein, who with 29,000 vasectomies to his name has earned himself the eponymous title of “the world’s most prolific vasectomist,” is looking for 10 male volunteers for the procedure.
Come October 18 and operation time, the Royal Institute will magnify the procedure on a large television screen and, as mentioned above, will be broadcasting it around the world via the Internet. But in case you think this is all for shock value, there is a serious point. Several, in fact. (Also: I’ve given up trying to dilute any innuendo so feel free to snicker throughout).
According to Lisa Bailey from The Royal Institution of Australia, this is part of a larger instillation aiming to demystify the process of the vasectomy and stripping it of its jokey connotations. “[The day will focus on] how vasectomy fits into cultural practices both in Australia and around the world and, to go along with all of this, we will actually be having live vasectomies performed on stage,” she said.
Secondly, it’s about raising awareness of a very real issue that should concern all of us.
Dr. Stein wants to communicate how simple and relatively pain free the vasectomy procedure is and possibly how necessary it is given the world’s rising population:
“I like biodiversity. I think we’re compromising biodiversity by our numbers,” Stein is quoted as saying.
“I like people. I think that problems between people are magnified by their density being too high,” he goes on. “I like children, I like children to be nurtured by their parents. And I think it’s easier to nurture two or three or four children than it is to nurture seven or eight or nine children.”
Stein will field questions as he works through the procedure, and there will be opportunities for those attending the event to ask vasectomy and population specialists more on the topic.
To throw a bit of background your way, The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 31 million couples currently use vasectomy as their contraception method of choice.
According to WHO: “Vasectomy is a simple, safe, effective, low-cost method of permanent contraception. It is an important component of a balanced contraceptive method mix.”
Briefly and in very simple terms, a vasectomy procedure entails clamping, cutting and/or sealing the tubes that connect the testicles to the urethra, thus preventing a release of sperm during ejaculation. The testes continue to produce sperm of course but it is simply reabsorbed back into the body.
It is true, however, that vasectomies are not always successful, though estimates say only one in 2000 patients will later go on to get a woman pregnant without further intervention.
The risks associated with a vasectomy are also very small.
Normally men can expect to feel sore with some swelling and bruising of the scrotum. It is true, though, that a minority of men after this procedure report having what is described as some mild discomfort at certain times for the rest of their lives.
As with most surgeries, however, the biggest risk comes from infection. Also, vasectomies of course do not protect against sexually transmitted infections, so wearing a condom may still be necessary depending on the patients’ particular circumstances.
To ensure every participant in the vasectomy event understands exactly what the surgery entails and what can go wrong, applicants will be screened before they are accepted to ensure they are fully aware of the procedure and also whether the live audience and broadcast will cause above-acceptable stress.
In wider related news, there are also plans to mark World Vasectomy Day with 1,000 men from across 25 countries opting for the quick snip to highlight how they care about population growth, child nurturing and resource management.
World Vasectomy Day is the work of Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Jonathan Stack, who became pals with vasectomist Dr. Doug Stein. Together they made a rather ominous sounding film, The Vasectomist.
After that, the pair decided to turn this into a global movement to ask more men to make the (tongue firmly in cheek) “ultimate sacrifice,” something that Stack likens to The Lord of The Rings:
“We’re asking men who do not want more children to shoulder the burden of family planning, to fight for their family, their community, their country and our planet,” says Stack in a press release. “To be like Frodo in ‘The Lord of the Rings’! By throwing our fertility into the fire, we’re protecting our women, our families and future generations.”
While we could quibble at the Aussie phrasing (our women?) the intention is noble enough: to get men who might never have considered a vasectomy before to be proactive and, dare we say it, even empowered.
So perhaps few people really want to see the vasectomy live-broadcast, but it may be reasonable to argue that, for the sake of our futures, as many men as possible really should.
Image credit: Thinkstock.