Dr. Esgar Guarin is raising awareness about vasectomies. With a background in family medicine, he switched to doing vasectomies only a few years ago. Now, he says he performs 600 to 700 of them a year.
“We really want to change the mentality of men in terms of our participation in contraception,” said Guarin, the co-founder and medical director of SimpleVas Vasectomy Clinic in Iowa. He's also a medical advisory board member at World Vasectomy Day, a nonprofit organization.
Some of the vasectomies Guarin performs are done through his mobile clinic.
“It has a restroom, it has a waiting area, and it has the procedure room,” he explained.
The main goal is to make vasectomies easier to access.
“The patient comes in, walks in, 30 minutes spent in my office, 10 minutes out of those 30 are the procedure, and then off he goes,” Guarin said.
Data from the National Survey of Family Growth in 2010 found that 6% of men reported getting a vasectomy whereas 16% of women reported getting a tubal ligation.
“At least we can do one to one, I’ll be very satisfied because we will be talking about a more equitable playing field in terms of reproductive health,” he said. “Tubal ligations are more complex, more costly, more invasive, you need an operating room, you need a physical location, you cannot move. Vasectomies are not like that.”
He said there are two things that cause men to not consider the procedure.
“There's ignorance, there's lack of adequate information, and there’s complexity in the process,” he said.
SimpleVas works to change that along with the cost and scheduling aspect. According to Planned Parenthood, the average price of a vasectomy is $1,000. SimpleVas offers them for $699 without insurance, for example. Guarin also works weekends to allow for better scheduling for men.
“I’ve simplified the system in a way that, if you want to see it this way, if a guy doesn't want to do a vasectomy he doesn't have excuses for it. And the only reason for him not to do it will be because he simply does not want to do it, which is completely legitimate,” he said. “Some people can question or criticize that approach and say ‘Well, you're babying men a lot’ and my answer to that is ‘Yes, I am’.”
Their mobile unit travels around Iowa, driving nearly 600 miles each month they take the mobile unit out. The team has even taken it on a road trip to New York City to spread awareness.
“To this day, to our knowledge, we are the only mobile vasectomy clinic there is in the country,” Dr. Guarin said.
He said he receives criticism from some on his motives behind spreading awareness. His main goal is to bring down the number of tubal ligations and increase vasectomies.
“The topic has always been there, but we’ve sort of kept it in the closet and a lot of that has to do with how sexual and reproductive health has been taught to men,” he said.