The Family Jewels: To Cut or Cover?

“OK, Honey, I’m pulling the goalie. The IUD is out. Your turn to think about contraception.”

Gees, now what? Quick, go through the list in your head. Withdrawal? Abstinence? Rhythm method? Not likely. Really boils down to vasectomy or condoms. Cut it or cover it.

Handling Old Faithful

The wonderful world of latex!
The wonderful world of latex!

Gees, condoms?!? Believe it or not, the oldest known condoms were made of fish intestine and were found in the depths of Dudley Castle in England and date to 1640! In the 19th century, they were called “French Preventatives.” I bet that the first thing that comes to your mind though is Steve Carell’s bedroom brawl with condoms in The 40 Year Old Virgin. Or, the embarrassing father-son bedside talk in American Pie with Jason Biggs and Gene Levy. Sooo high school.

Matter of fact, vasectomy has an equally illustrious past. It began in in earnest in American psychiatric hospitals and asylums over a century ago to control unintended population growth. In the roaring 1920’s, vasectomy was one way to achieve “male rejuvenation,” and the holy grail of perpetual youth. Much later, in the 1980s, vasectomy was featured in the flop film Vasectomy, A Delicate Matter, as Paul Sorvino is served ice-cold water on his privates in bed by his wife and mother of his 8 kids, to kindly let him know that things have to change.

Apples & Bananas

So which evil is the lesser evil? I figure it’s best to compare their stats mano e mano, as you would with cars or baseball teams:

Feature                          Condoms                       Vasectomy
How effective?                 Good (2-5% failure)          Great (<1% failure)
Ease of use?                    Constant bother               Tough at first; no sweat later
Time investment?              Constant bother               1 hr + 2 day recovery
Get the Sensation?            Latex                              All’s good
Reversibility?                     Extremely high                 Very high
Connotation?                     High School                     Responsible partner
Safe sex?                          Yes                                 No

Ok, it’s true that condoms are neat little pocket soldiers that can be called to duty as needed to serve their masters. But a well done No Scalpel vasectomy… now that is a thing of beauty, a silent, constant and faithful guard, and always at the ready to avoid life’s unhappy returns.

Cross-posted from

Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor

View posts by Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor
Dr. Paul Turek is an internationally known thought leader in men’s reproductive and sexual health care and research. A fellowship trained, board-certified physician by the American Board of Urology (ABU), he has received numerous honors and awards for his work and is an active member in professional associations worldwide. His recent lectures, publications and book titles can be found in his curriculum vitae.

1 Comment

  1. Zak HinesJuly 31, 2015

    Really great piece! While I’ve certainly heard the debate between condoms and vasectomies before, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done in this particular style. It made the article very fun to read and I found myself learning and laughing throughout (well done!). On a more serious note, this article provides excellent facts, many of which I had not previously been aware of. Always comes back to the point that knowledge is power, particularly when it comes to your health.

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