First off, if you are my mother, stop reading right now. Actually, anyone I’m related to, stop reading, unless you want Thanksgiving dinner to be more awkward than when the Native Americans asked the Pilgrims, “So this big dinner means we are cool now, right?”
I’m 32 years old. I’ve got three kids: a 2-year-old boy and twin 3-month-old girls.
These are pertinent facts when you are talking about having someone puncture a hole in your scrotum.
Also, if the word “scrotum” is too much for you … I’d hope you wouldn’t click on a story about vasectomies and figure it’s really just a quiz to figure out what kind of genitalia euphemism you are.
For any man, getting a vasectomy is one of the biggest, most life-changing moments possible.
We can’t give birth – we know! WE KNOW! – so in terms of having a direct, physical impact on the family, the decision to physically prevent more children is as much as we can do. It’s not nearly as invasive and painful and transformative as childbearing, but it’s still a big deal.
Given that, it’s funny how I never really hesitated when my wife and I first discussed it.
It can be a momentous decision when you decide you want to take the surgical route for family planning. It’s unfortunate that life isn’t fair about who gets to have kids and how many – there are people who would do anything to have one kid, and here I was actively deciding to stop making them. But you still have to decide what’s best for your family.
Should it be the mom who gets her tubes tied? We half-considered it as we waited for our twins to be born, since “they were going to be in there, anyway,” like the doctor tying my wife’s fallopian tubes was akin to a mechanic offering to change the water pump as part of a timing belt replacement.
But there’s a higher medical risk when the female gets her tubes tied, and, to be frank, I thought it was kind of crappy of me to suggest, “Hey, I know you’re already birthing twins, think you can add another medical procedure on top of that? I’ll buy you another push present!”
No, this time was my time. We have three beautiful, now-healthy children, and that was a good number. Plus, freaking condoms, amirite?
So what happens when a man decides to get a vasectomy? Here’s what went down:
I had to Google “Vasectomy York PA” because it’s not like my friends are constantly bragging about this dope spot to get your testicles clipped, yo.
I found a nice urology practice nearby whose marketing slogan was, for some unknown reason, not, “We’re NUTS about you,” or, “The ball is in our court!” #marketingfail
It’s a strange thing to call to make an appointment to end your ability to procreate, and yet the appointment scheduling was smoother than any Comcast call I’ve had. Good God, if Comcast booked vasectomies I’d have to wait around my house from the hours of 12-5 p.m.
A few weeks before the surgery, I had to get a consultation. This is evidently another way of saying, “We’ll make you drop your pants and make sure your testicles aren’t too weird.”
When I arrived, it was very clear to any bystander what I was there for. Every other man in the urology waiting room was pushing 80 (and, I’m assuming, had trouble urinating). We basically all had problems with things coming out of our penis. Bonding.
I tried to be cool about it when the nurse practitioner ended the appointment by asking me to drop my pants. I dropped them without hesitation, although that might have seemed overeager. I do not know what the correct pants-dropping speed is for vasectomy consultations. It’s probably somewhere between “Getting ready for a shower” and “Fifth date.”
(Women are very used to having genital-to-doctor heart-to-hearts. Men hardly ever drop their pants. Seriously, outside of prostate exams or sports physicals, it doesn’t happen. Frankly, doctor’s appointments would be more fun if no one wore pants, but I’d imagine my doctor would freak out if I was airing it out while he checked for strep.)
The nurse reminded me that until the procedure, I’d need to find other forms of birth control. I told her I have newborn twins and a toddler. Problem solved.
Finally, it was the day of. I had already scheduled a dental appointment for the day of the vasectomy – or V-Day, a Generation Z kid with no respect for history would call it. Instead of rescheduling, I figured, “Screw it,” because why not just double down on people messing around with my orifices?
An hour before seeing the urologist, the doctor had me take a Valium. Smart move. I also had to shave my genitals, which made me feel like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model preparing for a very unorthodox and ill-conceived photo shoot.
My wife dropped me off at the doctor’s office, hairless and a little high. You can’t drive yourself to your own vasectomy, but that also gave me the feeling I was being sent off to battle. My wife thanked me for agreeing to do the vasectomy. I had recently seen my wife push two babies out of her body. I should have been thanking her for not performing the vasectomy on me in my sleep.
“What are you here for?” the nurse asked me after I was taken into the back.
“A vasectomy, although the fact that you ask that makes me wonder if someone accidentally ended up with a surprise,” I replied.
The nurse sat me down in a semi-large surgical suite/vas deferens graveyard. She had to lather my genitals with some kind of surgical gel. At any other point in my life, a nurse lathering anything on my genitals would seem like a high point to be celebrated with drinks and glorious retellings. At this point, it was the least arousing thing that has ever happened to my penis.
This was good news: Just like 15-year-old me waiting for a sports physical, I had some concern that I’d get accidentally aroused during this ordeal, and how the hell do you talk your way out of that? Thank God that for once, my penis listened to me and by the way MOM WHY ARE YOU STILL READING?!
The doctor finally came in. It was go time.
“You have the perfect anatomy for this procedure,” the doctor told me in what surely sounded like the saddest Marvel superhero power.
Here’s how a vasectomy works: The doctor makes an incision in each testicle sack, then clips the vas deferens on each side to prevent it reaching the seminal fluid (ooh, sexy!), basically sending the sperm into a dead-end grave. Then the doctor cauterizes the clipped ends to prevent regrowth. If you ever want a good time, read those last two sentences to your husband and listen to him scream like that blond girl from Jurassic Park.
Pain-wise, it does not feel great to get a needle stuck into your testicle, even if it’s an anesthetic. But thankfully, the anesthetic worked, and I did not feel the doctor burning my vas deferens like a neglected hot dog on the grill. I could smell it. I don’t recommend smelling your testicles burning, but there I was.
He was nearly done with the first side and the pain wasn’t too bad before he performed what I can only describe as an audition tape on “America’s Funniest Internal Groin Kicks.” I wanted to double over but I was laying flat. I am not sure what he did, but it was going to seriously impact his tip.
From what I could tell – I was staring at the ceiling, not unlike the dentist but this time with no pants on – he was shoving the vas deferens back inside my scrotum. It only took a matter of seconds, but that was … unpleasant. Not a screaming pain (again, I know this is not even close to the level of childbirth), but man that sucked.
Then it was time to repeat on the other side. Numb it. Puncture it. Clip it. Burn it. Ball tap. The incisions are less than an inch long and are closed with dissolving stitches. There was some bleeding during the 25-minute procedure, but nothing afterward; some guys do bruise from it, but I did not. Thanks, perfect anatomy? I guess?
In under half an hour, I was now officially what every adolescent male yearns to temporarily be: infertile.
Pain-wise, overall, the dentist is a good comparison. If you’ve ever had extensive dental work done, it’s like that: at times very painful but only in short bursts, and the whole thing is very awkward. But then it’s done, and you no longer have wisdom teeth. Or the ability to knock up your spouse.
Like most guys, the mere thought of someone puncturing my testicles made me cringe. But all things considered, and knowing we won’t have to worry about an “oops baby,” it was worth it.
My wife picked me up and, surprisingly, I was able to walk to the car, albeit gingerly. It felt like someone had kicked me in the nuts the day before.
I went home and iced myself down. I was supposed to do that for the whole weekend, but then my toddler got the flu and there I was, carrying him around the house while wincing. It’s not too often you can be icing your testicles from a vasectomy while your son throws up all over you, or, as some might call it, twice the birth control.
The dull pain was mostly gone within a week.
But there was one last thing. You see, sperm are still stored in the testicles past where the incision was made. As long as they are in there, you could still get someone pregnant: “It’s a vasectomy, and then a pregnant wife,” Alanis Morissette sang on the B-side version of “Ironic.”
A nurse informed me at my follow-up visit that before I could be confident I was free of sperm, I’d need to submit two semen samples a few months afterward. The phrase “masturbation into the container” was used on the instruction sheet. I was being medically advised to masturbate into a plastic jar. Anna Kendrick and Kate Upton could have read those instructions while wearing lingerie and I’d still say, “Guys, this feels pretty clinical.”
I would need to ejaculate at least 25 times before it would be worth submitting the first sample, the nurse said. She added that while they estimate it will take two months, some guys said they could be ready to drop off the sample in a week. So there’s that.
The kicker? I’d need to collect the semen sample – now THAT’S the least arousing thing I’ve ever heard related to my genitals – within an hour of dropping it off at the lab … which is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Hot!
Wish me luck. And tell your husband he can do this – it’s going to be OK, man. Maybe he’s got the perfect anatomy for a vasectomy, too!
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