There are two deeply personal and difficult parts to the vasectomy process. The first is the decision to have one, and the second is the medical procedure itself. When it comes to part one, there are a maximum of two people who should be involved. The man having the operation, naturally, and then possibly his wife/partner, depending on his relationship status.
While vasectomies can technically be reversed, that process is, by all accounts not easy or even necessarily successful. You should be thinking about a vasectomy like it is final. This is it. No more babies. For that reason, you have to be absolutely sure. Don’t rush it. If there is any chance at all that you might change your mind, and adoption isn’t an appealing alternative, don’t do it. If, like me, you had your first child late and there are medical reasons why the two of you won’t want any more children, then a vasectomy is relatively painless (though admittedly uncomfortable), and it’s far less invasive than the female equivalent.
When I first contemplated writing about my vasectomy, I didn’t like the idea at all. My male pride couldn’t take the idea of people knowing that my masculinity had been compromised. Now that the procedure is complete, I realize the voice in my head just might have been getting a vasectomy confused with castration. To the great credit of the doctor who worked on me, he didn’t make the same mistake.
People will constantly tell you that there’s nothing to worry about with a vasectomy, and then explain a bunch of facts that sound God-awful. “There’s nothing to worry about,” they’ll say. “The doctor will simply make a hole the size of a nail on either side of your scrotum, then pull out the pipe and make a knuckle, then remove a section, then cauterize.” Simple or not, nothing about that sounds fun.
The day before the procedure, I had to shave my scrotum. This isn’t easy. In fact, it’s kind of like chiseling Jell-O. Nothing stays where it needs to. The day of the procedure, I did all I could to not think about what was going to happen, but that proved futile. I arrived at the hospital and, again, the nurse said, “You have nothing to worry about,” before adding, “They don’t even use a scalpel anymore.” “Something sharp is about to pierce my testicular area though, right?” said I. “Ummm, you have nothing to worry about,” repeated the nurse.
The doctor then entered the room, and behind him a student doctor. “These guys [the nurse and the student doctor] will now prepare you,” said the doctor. “I’ll be back in a minute. You have nothing to worry about.” Why did they keep saying that?
Now, I was worried.
Next up, a clear plastic sheet was placed over my lap, and my scrotum pushed through a hole. My parts were then given a soap wipe, and then painted with iodine. I felt like a bad art school project.
“You’re all ready,” said the nurse. “Beautiful.”
“Yes,” said the student doctor guy, with a smirk on his face. “You have a beautiful scrotum.”
I appreciated his (actually very effective) attempt to make me laugh and take my mind off things, especially considering the fact that I’ve never felt less beautiful. My scrotum pushed through the sheet looked a bit like a shaved brain poking through the top of a sun hat, or maybe a little like the aliens from Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks, viewed from above.
The doctor then entered and administered the local anesthetic. Not agony, I’ll grant you, but not something I’ll be looking to have done again unless absolutely necessary.
The nurse had informed me that this doctor is good at changing the subject during the procedure and taking your mind off of what was actually happening, but that didn’t prove to be the case because of the aforementioned student doctor, who was in the room to learn. In fact, I got a play-by-play that I really didn’t want or need but, hey, the guy has to learn with someone, right?
For the next 20 minutes, I tried to keep my eyes closed but a few moments stood out.
“Whatever happens and whatever you do,” the doctor told his student, “Don’t say ‘Whoops’ in front of a patient. They don’t like that.”
True enough. “The last thing I want to hear right now is ‘Whoops’,” said I, with tools inserted into my bag.
“You feel that?” the doctor again said to his student. “It feels tight, like a guitar string.”
“Are my testicles in tune?” said I, grimacing. “Is it an E or an A?”
The two other things I remember clearly are the smell resulting from the cauterizing process (not nice), and the doctor showing me the removed section of pipe. “I won’t keep it, thanks,” said I.
“How are you feeling?” asked the doctor. “Not great,” I said. “But if I was enjoying it, we’d both have bigger problems, right?”
“Every now and again, we get a guy who likes this a bit too much,” he said, leaving me honestly speechless. “I do what I have to do like a professional, and then get him the hell out.”
It takes all sorts, I guess.
The discomfort following a vasectomy lasts about a week, and it feels like you were kicked in the nether regions the day before, like a dull ache. If you’re considering a vasectomy soon, I’m not going to tell you that there’s nothing to worry about. The good news is that it’s over in a flash. Like the dentist (kind of), it’s a necessary evil. You’ll briefly feel vulnerable and ridiculous, and the whole thing is counter-intuitive. But when it’s all done, your masculinity will be firmly intact and, a couple of months later, you really get to enjoy the fruit of your labor.
Let’s be honest, child birth and regular pap smears are a lot tougher.