Although it is not common for a man to come out openly about his sex life, Mr Michael Higenyi Bory, the Butaleja District Chairperson, has defied this norm and openly talks about what made him undergo a vasectomy at 33 years.
Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure where the duct that conveys sperm from the testicle to the urethra is tied or cut.
Higenyi, now 44, underwent the operation at Marie Stopes Tororo centre in 2010.
The 15th of 18 children born to three mothers, Higenyi confesses that he has never seen the benefits of having many children.
“It is from that background that I decided to have only two children,” he says.
It all started in 1992, when Higenyi, as a Primary Seven pupil was educated about family planning. Of all plans that were provided then, he discovered that vasectomy was the best method for men because it is simple and quick.
“I got the concept of family planning while in Primary Seven in 1992 and that is when I decided I would have two children. I then started planning for my family although I did not have one at that time,” Higenyi recalls.
His plans never died.
“Before I got married I shared my vision with my partner during courtship. I told her that I only wanted two children in life unless we had twins. She was less assured that she would only have two children with me,” he says.
Higenyi got married in November 2005 to Suzan Nabonya.
“I had worked for nine years before my marriage. I had a good plan for my family already,” he asserts.
Today, he has no regrets about having fathered only two boys aged 13 and 10 , with Nabonya.
However, although he was personally convinced he needed a vasectomy after the birth of his second born, getting it aged 33, in 2010 was not as easy as he had imagined.
The first doctor refused to carry out the surgery on him claiming he was still young.
“By the time I approached him, the children were very young and he thought I too was young. He believed I was doing it out of anger and maybe out of social irresponsibility,” narrates Higenyi.
“I assured him that I was ready to face whatever social problem came from the surgery. But the doctor refused and I was forced to get another doctor - a female one - who carried out the operation. I was put to task to explain why I wanted to do a vasectomy which I did,” he adds.
In his view, family planning is not about having one or two children but it is about having the number of ‘quality and manageable’ children you need in life at the time you want them.
“The surgery was very quick, less than eight minutes and the size of the cut is almost a third of centimetre. You do not feel any pain,” he say, adding that the surgery is carried out while you are conscious. Also, one recovers in less than five days.”
Higenyi who retired as a school teacher in 2009 to join politics, says antenatal care throughout the pregnancy up to childbirth is more expensive than vasectomy.
“My children are studying with ministers’ children in the best schools in the country. I would not be able to have my children in such schools if I had had a big number of children,” he says.
His first born, Mathew Were,is in Primary Seven at Little Angel Primary School, Lugazi a while Markell Dylan Ganghai, is at Mivule Primary School in Mutungo campus in Kampala.
“We need to have children that we can take care of. Having few children gives you freedom and reduces stress,” he says, adding that he held a stress free campaign because of the small family back home.
Having fewer children, he says, made it easy for him to attain the current position of the District LC5 chairperson.
Higenyi shares that vasectomy does not affect any sexual functioning and that the procedure has no health complications and eliminates the worry of unplanned pregnancy and the wife’s worry of taking family planning injections or pills.
Plans for Butaleja
Higenyi says family planning is high on his agenda.
“I want to engage more men to embrace family planning because when they do, the country will make positive strides,” he vows.
With the rising cost of living, he says, “we must embrace family planning. having many children raises poverty levels. One spends about Shs3m on taking care of a pregnancy.”
Every woman in Butaleja gives birth to more than eight children, a number that exposes women to maternal deaths.
“It also affects productivity in terms of labour and business,” said.
Dr Siraji Kizito, a gynaecologist says vasectomy is a permanent contraceptive method.
“Although vasectomy is currently the only reliable contraceptive option available to men, it is a permanent family planning method. It is not reversible,” says Dr Kizito, who is also the District Health Officer for Butaleja.
A vasectomy is a small operation to prevent pregnancy. It blocks sperm from getting to your semen when you ejaculate. With no sperm leaving your body, you can’t get someone pregnant. You can still have an orgasm and ejaculate.
A cut is made in your scrotum to reach two tubes. Each tube is called a “vas deferens,” and you have one for each testicle. Your doctor may remove a small piece of each tube and leave a short gap between the two ends. They might sear each end, but they will tie each one off with a stitch. Your doctor may be able to do both with one cut, or they may have to make a second cut. You might get stitches that dissolve over time to help the cuts close. When each vas deferens has been cut, sperm can no longer reach your semen or leave your body.
The doctor feels for each vas deferens under your scrotum and uses a clamp to hold it in place. They’ll make a tiny hole in your skin, stretch it open, and lift each vas deferens out. They’ll cut it, then seal it with searing, stitches, or both.