If you didn't know that today is World Vasectomy Day, you're not alone. The visibility of this "holiday" may be low — it was only established (by a filmmaker and urologist) last year, after all — but the health activists behind this day are doing their best to change that. Starting at 9:30 a.m. this morning, the activists began streaming live vasectomy procedures from the Planned Parenthood headquarters in Kissimmee, Florida, where World Vasectomy co-founder Doug Stein, MD, is providing 25 men with free vasectomies to raise awareness about this underused birth control option. That's right: You can watch a live video stream of these procedures, right now — and hear the surgeon explain, in real time, what he's doing, while patients describe how they're feeling. Dr. Stein is just one of 300 surgeons around the world who have pledged to perform a collective 1,500 vasectomies today.
It sounds extreme — and no, a live vasectomy feed is neither for the surgery-averse nor those opposed to viewing a stranger's genitalia — but the chatty, calm environment of the goings-on underscores just how easy, painless, and fast a vasectomy is. Don't take our word for it: Watch for yourself (NSFW, obviously). "It was a really easy procedure," one patient told the other men waiting their turn just after his surgery. "I barely knew it was going on — I was a little nervous at first, but I was surprised by how easy and fast it was." Said another man during his procedure (yes, during): "I can barely feel anything — it's great!"
A vasectomy is a permanent method of birth control that blocks or closes a man's vas deferens, the tube that transports semen — meaning that orgasm and ejaculation happen as normal, but the sperm don't make it out of the body. Even though the procedure is effective and safe, about six times as many women have their tubes tied (tubal ligation) as men receive vasectomies — despite the fact that tubal ligation is more expensive and more dangerous (ectopic pregnancy is a risk). Still, lingering (and misplaced) anxiety that a vasectomy will somehow diminish a man's, well, manliness stunts widespread acceptance of this procedure, even among men whose families are complete. Here's hoping that seeing the procedure play out in real time will normalize this safe, effective form of male BC — because both men and women deserve the fullest possible range of reproductive options.