The Big V

The beach at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Photo: BBM Explorer

I had my vasectomy on January 19, 2012, the date memorialized with the iCal notation "Vascect [sic] no lunch 34th st." At this writing the objects in question are still apparently live, pumping out spermatozoa like a dying pulsar that will soon dwindle into white noise. It takes a certain number of ejaculations to completely clear the pipes, as it were, and by try number twelve I'll be as barren as the surface of binary moons rising over an alien landscape.

Stepping back from the hyperbolic, let's explore my reasons for this course of action and why, at 36, I decided it was time to stop all this baby nonsense, at least from my side. My wife and I have two kids, six and three, and for a number of years we thought we were through. A surprising (but definitely not unwanted, if he's reading this later) third appeared this summer and we decided that 98% effectiveness was less enticing than 100% effectiveness. Rather than risk an invasive surgery for her, we (or I? I like to think we) decided it would be nice for me to have a bit of outpatient work done, go home, wash down a Tylenol with some bourbon(s), and let the old boys rest.

I went into this whole thing without thinking about it. I had friends who had already had it done and few told any truly terrible tales. One friend said his doctor recommended putting a cold six pack between his legs the first day and finishing it off before they (the beers) warmed. Another mentioned getting Valium, so I was pretty much sold at that point.

I headed over to "no lunch 34th st" at about 1pm and came upon one of those strange, close doctor's offices at the heart of Manhattan, an office that you least expect to be on the first floor of a high-rise and that is big enough to seat maybe fifty souls. This is a urology practice and there are a lot of old men here - myself, I fear, included. This is the heath and we are all Lears, raging (silently) against the coming ruin. Gents, your loins are the first to go, this room seems to say, so let's get this thing over with. Pee into this cup.

Before you can get the big V there's a waiting period, like waiting for a gun before the days of the Computerized Background Check. You need to think on it for a month before they snip, and you have to sign a page of legalese when you first ask for the procedure and then the same page a month later, admitting that you've gone into this course of action with full recognizance and that you haven't just decided to have someone cut into your testicles on a whim. The nurses at this practice were mostly surly-looking but once they realize you're here for the snip they're much more personable, smiling, kindly leading you to one room and then another. Perhaps I was the first patient that day they didn't have to request urine from, a respite I definitely would appreciate and I'm sure they appreciated more. Or maybe they knew my fate and inwardly smiled at what awaited me, full of schadenfreude. I won't ascribe to them this malice but, as I understand it, there are very few things going on down there for a guy and many more painful medical invasions for women. This is the Halley's Comet of medical experiences for dudes - a bold and once-in-a-lifetime incursion from the outside with a blazing tail of pain and discomfort.

Zoom. They were ready for me.

Strip from the waist down, put this around you. Here's some iodine. Here comes the anesthesiologist. "We don't need to snow you under," she says. "It's just a little valium." We start to talk about Find My iPhone vs. Friend Finder as she finds a vein. She's confused. "What's the difference? My friend uses Find My iPhone to find her son. Is that the same?" she asks. She plugs in. The valium comes in like a fog bank, warm and floaty. "My friend wants to see where her daughter is."

"Try Find My iPhone," I mutter, still awake, not snowed under.

The doctor comes in and checks things out. Two pinpricks down there to administer the topical anesthetic and I'm numb both top and bottom. "Here we go," says the doctor, like we're about to rev up the motor of his cigarette boat and go scudding over the waves. We're not.

There is no pain, just a few moments of jiggling down there and a few moments of "Whoa." A little bit of sewing and I'm given some time to sit off the Valium. Then it's home on the subway.

And then my troubles began. What they they don't tell you about this whole thing is that the invasion is initially uncomfortable and then excruciating. First there's bruising. Then there's swelling. Then there's drinking. Then there's lack of sleep because of the swelling. I had scheduled a trip with the family to the Dominican Republic for the week after my operation and I found that walking through an airport with bags and kids aggravated the boys quite handily and I tried to sit still a lot, the pain throbbing gently like a disco beat in my loins.

Over the next few days I lay by the pool, voided the efficacy my antibiotics by drinking Mai Tais, and waited for this all to end. It's akin to starting things anew down there, something like discovering puberty. For years you're humming along, doing good work, and suddenly something happens. It's unnerving and it kept me from using the equipment out of fear of breakage.

I remember an afternoon on the hotel balcony, a train of humans dressed in vacation wear walking by below, the Mai Tai dying in my hand, that I realized what I had done. I used to laugh at people who had kids, saying in a robot voice "Your biological imperative is complete. You can die now." I was a jerk, sure, but what I didn't realize was that this was the end game. To not be able to transmit is the organism's nadir. In nature you can't transmit because your feathers are too ugly or you caught your eye on a tree-limb and you no female baboon would take you. But I did this to myself. It was a voluntary going into that good night. To be fair, I still have plenty of time to enjoy myself during that good night, before I shuffle off this mortal coil and truly stop transmitting altogether and, to be doubly fair, I already have three kids who will carry me to the stars and beyond, but damn if it isn't a discomfiting feeling to know this is the end of the line.

So that's it. That's the big reveal: vasectomy makes blogger think about life. The process also polarizes things. It closes off a number of avenues of dreamy-eyed reproduction while opening new vistas of exciting potential health complications. It makes you realize that you are at the end of your life cycle, your old role is rapidly aging, and that you're basically here as a bag of meat until you're not.

But it's not all depression and gloom.

But it also tells you that you've made it, you've done what you needed to do, and as I watched my kids run on that Puerto Plata beach, their eyes and hands and voices in so many ways wedded to my own, I figured I'd made my peace with whatever it was that made them and that I was ready for them to run in front of me, their faces buffeted by the spray, their hair reflecting the mid-day sun the way it did when I was a kid, a long time ago, before all of this.


  1. It makes you realize that you are at the end of your life cycle, your old role is rapidly aging, and that you’re basically here as a bag of meat until you’re not.

    I’d prefer to think about it as taking control of your biology. Now if only someone could fix this ridiculous craving for fats and sugars, or at least this insane insistence on holding on to those calories for dear life.

    1. I’d like to second this – that it’s taking control of your biology.  My fiance and I very staunchly do not want kids, and although he hasn’t gotten a vasectomy yet, it’s high on the list of things to do when we have better insurance. I wouldn’t call either of us evolutionary failures for not procreating – we’re just being responsible.

      1. Right now you’re talking about being responsible. If you’re delaying based on insurance, do more research. Get on with it! It’s a lot less expensive and less risky than a pregnancy (or another related medical procedure you don’t want). And the strain on your relationship any failure of birth control would entail. And, even if you later break up, your guy will be not having babies he doesn’t want.

    2. Oh, I agree that it’s just being responsible. I made a decision and stuck to it. However, I was just musing on biology and not personal choice.

  2. Why aren’t there a bunch of regressive religious figures up in arms about this?  Hm.  Suspicious; I’m starting to think this whole “birth control” thing isn’t actually about the pill at all, but part of a larger pattern of oppressing women!

    1. There are definitely some. I needed a permission slip, one doctor wouldn’t do it as “young” as I was at the time (30), another wouldn’t do it because I didn’t already have kids, the one that finally did it required a permission slip from my wife.

      1. My doctor expressed great consternation over my young age and lack of existing progeny but he grudgingly performed the procedure anyway.

        1. There was a local doctor I wish I found that does vasectomies that I wish I found before I went through all the ones I did.

          Richard Choppe (think about it)

        2. Had one done in the mid 90’s when I was in my early 30’s,  (also with, um, lack of existing progeny) and received no flak at all from the medical personnel involved. 

        3. I’m not a doctor, but if I was I don’t think I’d be able to handle that procedure, either. I’d feel too much like I was disrupting nature, fouling up a perfectly good set of organs, or participating in some dark, post-modern eugenics meant to incapacitate middle-aged men.

          So maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t choose med school.

      2. Yeah; I have friends with similar stories– though if a doctor asked for a permission slip I would never ever talk to them again. Isn’t that a huge ethics violation? Jeez.

    2. The difference is there’s no push to force religious employers to pay for insurance plans which pay for vasectomies, in violation of the dictates of those religions.

      1. The difference is there’s no push to force religious employers to pay for insurance plans which pay for vasectomies, in violation of the dictates of those religions.

        There’s no push because most insurance covers it and religious employers aren’t fighting it. Which just proves the misogynist nature of the birth control issue.

        1. I’m quite sure that large Catholic employers, one of the few groups which actually cares about such things, make sure their insurance doesn’t include it.

          Whether or not “the birth control issue” has a “misogynist nature”, the first amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion.  It is hardly unreasonable to conclude that that means the government is not permitted to force a religious employer to pay for an insurance plan that covers procedures and substances it considers immoral.  In fact, the Obama administration agrees, since it exempted churches, but tried to claim that only churches or agencies which served their own members but not the general public could claim the exemption. (Run a shelter for battered women that serves only Catholic women, you can claim the exemption. Run a shelter for battered women that takes all comers, no dice.)

          I do not share the Catholic belief that birth control is wrong, so I don’t have a dog in that particular fight.  But please stop pretending there’s no possible reason to be against that mandate other than hating women.  One very good reason to be against the mandate is that it is an infringement upon the free exercise of religion.

          1. But please stop pretending there’s no possible reason to be against that mandate other than hating women. One very good reason to be against the mandate is that it is an infringement upon the free exercise of religion.

            I’ll make you a deal. You stop pretending that the Catholic Church isn’t one of the most woman-hating institutions every devised by man and we can have a serious discussion about this. If the First Amendment is now used as a bulwark of institutionalized oppression, then it’s time to burn the Constitution and start fresh. Maybe a document written by a bunch of slave-owning, wealthy, white men doesn’t have all the answers.

          2. “Run a shelter for battered women that serves only Catholic women, you can claim the exemption. Run a shelter for battered women that takes all comers, no dice.”

            Are you sure that’s how it works? Honest question.

            The way I understand it, it goes like this: If a Catholic church runs a shelter and is so small that it only hires its own Catholic church members as staff, then it can claim exemption. But if it runs a large hospital and hires people regardless of whether they’re a Catholic church member, then they can’t claim exemption.

            Also, the way I understand the proposed Blunt Amendment– It would allow employers to deny coverage to anything they found objectionable, religious reasons or not. Your boss doesn’t like blood transfusions? Your insurance won’t pay for one. Your boss thinks C-sections are morally objectionable? Your insurance won’t pay for one.

            Scary stuff, imo.

  3. Almost 5 yrs post vasectomy myself.  Still have pain there.  Think more then twice before you mutilate yourself.  

          1. Discomfort and swelling disappeared within a week.
            Only local anesthetic. Valium jar reached its expiration date unopened.

            Worst part was going to Wal-Mart to purchase tighty-whities for the recovery period.

          2. I read enough of the horrors to put me off, but went ahead very carefully anyway. In the uk the nhs advises keeping your feet up for 2 days and wearing tight underwear for at least a week. I went overboard and kept my feet up for 4 days and wore the tight undies for at least 2 weeks. the tight undies may be uncomfortable but they dramatically ease the scrotal bruising and soreness.
            the net result of my over cautious approach… I have no pain whatsoever.
            Interestingly, the guy who got done before me rode off on a motorbike which seemed a little reckless… if anyone was a candidate for PVP its him

        1. But what is Mr Biggs’ article, or any reply to same, but anecdote?

          Judging from the admittedly anecdotal, evidence collected thus far on this thread, the minimally invasive procedure is far more reliable than the one Mr Biggs underwent.

        2. I don’t like the idea of dismissing anecdotal evidence out of hand. I mean sure, one or two people’s experiences may not amount to much, but here we actually have dozens of people’s experiences, warnings, concerns etc. written without sticking to a possibly biased or incomplete questionnaire or a study format. Scientific studies are incredibly useful, but aren’t free from bias or shortfalls even before the press gets hold of them. Jason is not just telling an anecdote, he’s experiencing it and actually has important information for people (like me) who are considering having a vasectomy along with the kind of procedure we should have. It’s not going to change my mind if I know it might be painful or there might be increased risks of things like prostate cancer, but if there are cautionary tales, even if they’re due to something he did wrong, I’d like to know so I can avoid doing the same thing.

          1. BTW, I do know the link between prostate cancer and vasectomies is dubious at best, but it is often difficult to look for advice from scientific studies when they need to stick to very specific questions that may not show the full picture at all. I’d say questions like “will my vasectomy give me cancer” is definitely for a study, while “will my vasectomy be painful and for how long?” might even be better answered if you had a largish group of people who have had vasectomies in the past that you can ask. In many ways, anecdotal evidence is a lot better on a site like this as people are more likely to be informed (or call out people who aren’t).

          1. @Antinous_Moderator:disqus Given that I had to have a second operation, it’s an additional charge.

            I’m assuming that second one is prix fixe, since they pop ’em out to find ’em all. (I told you you didn’t want to know what they did for the second)

      1. Interesting, I’ve never heard that particular point before. I’ll place that in the “pros” column. I have not undergone the procedure myself, as my long-time gf has made it known that I’m not finished progenating (yet). But the time will come, probably in the next 5 years or so (I’m 30).

  4. We came to much the same decision as you and your wife after our 4th child.  I should have gone earlier, but then we wouldn’t have her, and she’s one of the very few things that can effectively lower my blood pressure these days.

    I’d like to add that your experience of no pain at the doctor’s office may not be standard.  While, yes, they plugged me with a couple of Valium for the visit, and they stuck me with needles until I couldn’t feel anything between my waist and my knees, there’s still…tugging.  They have to pull at the veins in order to get enough slack to work with them.  You feel that …everywhere.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a dramatic feeling of “OMG thiswasamistakegetmeouttahere.”

    Afterwards, the doc gave me some 500mg Ibuprofen tablets that…gave the world a nice calm glow.  I spent a day in bed with some frozen peas resting gently on top of my PJs, and slumbered on and off.  I ended up not needing all the meds, and they sat in a linen closet for about a year until we went to Disney World.  I brought them along on a lark, and it turned out to be the perfect solution to fat tourist syndrome.  

    1. My post-op medication was Tylenol-3, which is Acetaminophen + codeine-  that’s probably a better source of glow than straight Ibuprophen, which doesn’t do much in that regard, as far as I’m aware.

      I just had the procedure done a few days back-  At one point early in the procedure, something got tugged.  I could tell the anesthetic was working, because it should have been a lot more pain than I felt, given what was going on.

      I described it to the doctor as a “It felt as if there was a taut cord between the tip of my toes and the back of my eyeballs, and you just gave it a strum.”

      The most disconcerting part for me during my procedure was feeling the pressure  below my waist, while seeing the doctor start working with the cauterizing gun, which looked like a little fine-tipped weller soldering iron.  I didn’t feel a thing, which made me frightened, thinking about what could have been going wrong.

      Currentlty-  I’m in a state of very low-grade discomfort when I walk, but nothing that’d dissuade me from doing the process again.

  5. Welcome to the club!!! :)

    I wish I had a video of my interpretation of the newly formed swimmers realizing they had nowhere to go. I assure you it was worthy of an Oscar.

    Oh, and frozen peas was the best, I found. at least 3 packs in rotation! 

  6. Hate to say it, but you guys got crappy vasectomies. Mine didn’t involve any stitches (just holding a bit of gauze in place), and I was only somewhat sore for a couple days. The worst part was when the anesthetic wore off partway through and I felt a jolt of electricity as the doctor cauterized one end of vas deferens. It was mild enough that I just informed the doctor and he applied some additional anesthetic.

    Valium would have been extremely excessive in my case, and there’s no lingering pain.

    In short, go for a no-scalpel vasectomy.

    1. I have to agree, as my experience (a mere 4 weeks ago) was much different than the author’s; it sounds like he went to a butcher for an archaic procedure.

      Feet up for a few days, a bag of frozen peas on/off in 1/2-hr cycles and, of primary importance, tight briefs for at LEAST a week. Gotta keep the boys from rattling around.

      I had minimal discomfort and, as an ex-junkie with 12 years clean, I refused the offer of Vicodin. Tylenol for the 1st day and I needed no Ibuprofen thereafter. The one thing that struck me was the smoke coming from… down there… as he cauterized; rather disconcerting and yet hilarious at the same time. “My boys are SMOKING!”

      My urologist recommended 24 ejaculations (not 23, not 25…) and 6 weeks. I’m only at 14 right now so both my right hand and my wife need to kick it up a notch. Once I hit the requisite numbers, I’m to jackoff in a cup and bring it in for testing.

      I’m 53, my wife is 29; I needed no permission slip and, other than the time to get a 2nd appointment, there was no “waiting period”. We have zero offspring and neither of us have ever desired them.

  7. Be sure to wait for the all clear. I actually had to have a second one because of  a third vas deferens. You don’t want to know how they do the second one.

    How did you manage valium? I only had the locals (well, for the first one anyway). 

    And as another poster stated,  frozen peas are your friend.

    1. I was asking the same question. how did you get Valium? I had probably 6 shots for a local. 

      I find it also crazy that there was a waiting period.  I called up (at 29yrs old two kids) and was in the next week.  Also for the people with pain I had mine done last October and have been pain after about a month.  I had one small cut and some internal stitching that dissolved on its own.  for me the worst part was the month of healing.  those stitches sucked.  other than that I’d recommend it if you are looking for a permanent birth control. 

  8. I remember my own vasectomy as a complete non-event. No drama, no hand wringing. Walk in. A little local anesthetic. No pain. Out in 10 minutes. A little tenderness for a week and it’s all over. Can’t tell the difference. Do it. It’s good for the planet.

    1. Mine was the same – a non-event.  I had a little pain that evening, but a bag of frozen peas and a couple of shots of Jim Beam took care of that.

  9. Had mine done at 34, we didn’t want kids. Was sore for a couple of days, but it wasn’t anything major (definitely nothing compared to my wife would have to go through to have her tubes tied).

    Best decision ever for us. Made life a LOT simpler. :-)

  10. I’ve been shooting blanks for over 15 years now, I second Chris Wrights’ suggestion for the no scalpel option.
    All is well, and it makes a great pickup line. 
    “Hey Baby, wanna see my vasectomy scar?” Gig-a-ty.
    Also, you can end every argument with Pro-Lifers by confidently stating that you will never be responsible for an unplanned pregnancy. Boo-Yah!

  11. Interesting experiences. I was jut given a local with nothing else. It was interesting to be clear headed and able to lift my head off the table to watch the procedure.
    I wasn’t even given pain killers for later, just told to take ibuprofen (or some other over the counter, can’t remember). As far as discomfort after the fact, a jock support is your friend. Make sure your boys cannot move and you will be much happier. I still got bruising but other than a low ache for a couple days I was fine.

  12. Some of you had pretty scary procedures. Mine didn’t involve any valium or anything like that. The only painful part was the local anesthetic. Tiny opening that required one stitch, and the whole thing took all of 15 minutes. There was some swelling and things turned a pretty sickly bluish-black down there for about a week, but beyond that- it was cake. About the only think I don’t like is they left some little plastic clips inside. More annoying than anything else. They are supposed to prevent things from ever reconnecting. Can be upsetting when women first feel them, but then I just say it’s an insurance policy that I’m really “fixed”.

    1. At the time- I was 38. Doctor did make my read a long paper about how the procedure is almost impossible to reverse and I had to sign a waiver saying I would never be able to have kids. That was the point, after all… :)

  13. The triple play vasectomy that I got (and what it sounds like several others did, too), involves cutting, cauterizing, and tying the vas deferens.  It’s the tugging on them to be able to tie them in a knot that makes you feel like they are trying to pull every muscle in your body out through your scrotum – even with the happy pills and locals.

    That being said, it’s the best $10 copay I ever forked over, and was a tiny thing for me to do in comparison to my wife delivering our two kids.

    1. And separation with distance (removing a segment of the vas to prevent any possibility of it self-mending).

  14. I tried to get one years back.  However the vas is” fused” and not easily separabile from  spermatic cord, so they couldn’t do it under local and with tiny tools.  Usually it can be separated rather easily.  The junior docs didn’t catch that, but they did once I was up on the table, but before local.  

    After being thoroughly palpated by several docs, they concluded what would be best was a spinal block, so they could basically slice open the scrotum and pull the testicles out to work on them in the cold light of day.  More risk, longer recovery.

    So I declined, and we’ve stuck with other methods of birth control for years now.  

  15. Oh. Fun fact: We tried to get this done in Poland on the day we found out about #3 and the doctor didn’t know if it could be done in Warsaw and if it was even legal. So clearly there are still some laws on the books somewhere.

  16. My “few moments of “Whoa” (yes, had a vasectomy 6 months after birth of 2nd child) were at the point in the procedure when cauterization is going on – didn’t feel anything, but saw smoke rising from a point where fire is NEVER welcome.

    1. It was worse for me BECAUSE I didn’t feel anything, yet saw that smoke.
      I had visions of the doctor “slipping’ with that cauterizer, and me not realizing it until afterwards.

  17. I’d love to have a male version of the pill, our only option is described in the above article.. unfortunately for me, the condom/latex companies are not going to cut their entire profit so I can have that freedom.
    I am really quite young so I’d never get a doctor to sign off on it, yet I risk ruining my life if I have sex, tiny tiny risk which dsnt stop me, and if she is on her pill then all the better, but still..

    I don’t want a child now, and I’d rather adopt (too many humans around and I like the idea of having a choice).Only option is trusting that she is responsible and took her pills in the weirdly precise way they have to, or condoms. Condoms ruin sex, they are never comfortable, problems with snapping, and it feels like your pushing through tough plastic wrapping; great for protection, not great for keeping my focus on being intimate with someone I care for, rather than constantly thinking about how it’s starting to hurt. 

    If this issue was focused on the oposite gender there would be all sorts of condemnation about it. 
    This is off topic, but it does make me wonder; we haven’t yet confronted male sexual repression really, for all intensive purposes it dsnt exist..  males still never talk or confront possibilites of sexuality, they run, and condem, along with the females in our culture(s).
    It’s amazing how many times I’ve had to explain to females weird ignorances like the fact that I can stop pissing half way through, or that you can’t tell from an erection whether I am actually turned on or not… or that I won’t get turned on just because you have your breasts out.

    I mention this because I think part of the larger solution is to shift the focus from these irritating prejudice/ignorant fears, so we can push public attention on to issues like why the hell is this procedure necessary?

    We probably have a long way to go to catch up to women in some ways, and I’d like to see it start with pill freedom. It’s better than cutting, burning or sowing ect in a place that many of you posting above have stated there should never be… no?

    1. As a ladything who’s gone through just about every reliable form of birth control, along with their attendant unsettling side effects before settling on one that merely causes increased pain and Hitchcockesque bleeding, I wouldn’t mind seeing some improvements in male birth control, either.

    2. Something that I’m keeping an eye on is RISUG:

      As a male, I too cannot wait until a day where I don’t have to rely on someone else to take a daily pill (I know I’m horrible at it, why should I trust anyone else to do better?) in order to not run a chance of *surprise* “You’ve got kid(s)!”. I know there are more options, and I do use condoms a large portion of the time (for STI reasons as well, obviously), but we need to shift some of the burden. And it makes me feel kind of shitty as a partner having to say, “Well, honey, I guess it’s all on you.” That ain’t right.

  18. Another plug for no-scalpel vasectomies here.  I had mine done about three years ago, and aside from sitting around with a bag of frozen peas for a couple hours, there was no discomfort at all.  The whole thing took less than ten minutes.  If you are anywhere near Seattle, a trip to the Vasectomy Clinic is in order:

    Plus, he gives you a little pocket knife inscribed with the clinic’s name.

    1. “Plus, he gives you a little pocket knife inscribed with the clinic’s name.”

      Seems like a way to LOSE business. Or does he give you the knife after?

      1. Yeah, fortunately, it was like a goody bag afterward, and not a do-it-yourself offer.

        Also, “goody bag.”

  19. Nice piece.

    Had mine a couple years ago, after my daughter was a few months old and healthy. (I have one other child, a boy two years older). Occasionally I get some pain on the left side of the scrote when, I *think*, the vas gets uncomfortably tucked on the wrong side of one of the testes. It’s a very off-balancing and confusing feeling (like when you get kicked in the groin, actually) and requires some rather private…adjusting… to correct. 

    I don’t think I regret it, though I agree with your sentiments that most of the depth to the experience is the prelude and aftermath, rather than the snipping itself. 

    There’s more to a vasectomy than “OMG I CAN HAVE TEH SEX ANYTIME I WANT!” in the same way that there’s more to marriage than the sentiment “we’ve lived together for 3 years, things won’t change after we’re married.” It’s not all bad, but it’s definitely different. I’m 31 and I certainly don’t want any new children at this point (very happy with my two beautiful kids — and even if something tragic and horrible should befall them, I would not want to try again), but it’s still kind of weird to accept that I am no longer CAPABLE of even doing that. The decision isn’t something to be taken lightly, for sure.

  20. 10 years for me – I had mine done at 30 as a single guy.   It was one of many life changes I made at that time to get my life going in the direction I wanted.   I had to wait a month after the initial consultation, but otherwise the doc showed little concern about my motives, thank goodness.

    From what I’ve heard here and elsewhere, one’s mileage varies in regards to the pain/recovery.  Mine was on the very mild end.  Cut and then sew shut and cover the tube ends with a flap of tissue for good measure (so I was told, I am squeamish so did not watch).  I was sore for a few days, but not so much as to require painkillers, and I might have only used a cold pack for a day or two.

    It certainly affected my dating pool, but that sort of worked in my favor considering I felt strongly about not procreating.   3 years later I met a childfree woman, who’s been my wife for over 5 years. 

    Best health decision I’ve ever made!

    1. Did your doctor mandate some sessions with a psychiatrist beforehand to ensure that you were ready for this change? Mine did, perhaps because of my age (25). Seemed pointless at the time, but I did get to inform her about VHEMT.

      1.  Nah, he was pretty laid back about it.   We talked briefly about my reasons.  He seemed OK with that, and said that “If you were 23, I’d say come back in a few years.  If you were 40, we’d go in the back and take care of this right now.  But for you,  I’m going to ask you to make an appointment for a month from now just to make sure.”   Seemed perfectly reasonable.

        Most people who know me well weren’t terribly surprised or bothered, and people who didn’t know me well were the ones who would have reactions.  Since I didn’t know them well, I didn’t really care.

        When I told the folks, my mom said something like “did you at least SAVE SOME?” while my dad just chuckled.  Neither were too surprised, nor do they ever bring it up. 

        The wife’s was childfree long before we met, so neither of us has really ever been “baby bingoed” by the people we know – we’ve been pretty lucky with that.

  21. Waited til my 40s (and the 3 kids) for the snip-snip, kind of an end-of-reproductive-life-cycle gift to my wife. Two months later she started menopause.
    The best laid plans…
    Doin’ fine and shootin’ blanks for a dozen years now.

  22. Mine was done a few years ago (my wife has to have c sections to give birth – and things got hairy the first time).   I *DID* experience a lot of pain and soreness for a long time… off and on.  Then it got better.  Now, almost 5 years later, I only occasionally get a sore vessicle (or whatever) but otherwise it’s great.  Our relationship has never been better now that we don’t have the spectre of the possible-death-in-childbirth hanging over the room when you feel like getting a little cuddly.  And if I want more kids, we can adopt… but I think we’re good for now.

  23. Mine is lined up for two weeks time.  32 with 3 kids and I’m done.  Wifey would like a 4th, but she understands that isn’t something I’m up for.  She has made her peace with that.

    I’ve read a bit about post-op pain, but it seems to be an unfortunate minority of cases who go on to experience chronic pain symptoms.

    I’m quite nervous – I’m bulk buying peas!! (but all those cans are starting to take up way too much room in the cupboard…)

    1. take them out of the cans and its more comfortable, although, a bit more messy.

      frozen cans tend to stick to the skin as well so its a double-edge benefit

    2. I cannot stress enough the fact that the tight briefs are very very important. You can tell because I said “very” twice. Keep the boys close for at least a week.

      Also, wrap the bag of peas in a dish towel. 

  24. Forgot to add… my wife requested to watch the procedure. The doc turned to me and said “well, I don’t mind, do you?” I said “why not? she can give me a play-by-play!” lol!

    AND after they were done, I said “wait! I want to see what you took out before you throw it away!” which I was then given a very quizzical look from the doc. I’m sure its not a request he gets very often (as well as the request to watch by someone else). He presented a paper towel with two little things that looked like 3/16″ to 1/4″ pieces of pasta. It was quite fascinating to watch from what she told me. I couldn’t really see much.

    1. If he had been thinking, he would have shown you an old rusty key, a pair of large marbles and some twine in addition to your pasta-bits, and would have said “it was pretty crowded ‘down there’, glad you came in for the procedure.”

      1. that would have been GREAT!!!

        much along the lines of whenever I have bloodwork and ask when the coffee grounds and cigarette butts start to come out.

  25. I had mine on Feb 3rd. It’s interesting to see how the procedure is different in different states. I didn’t have to wait, save for an appointment slot.
    I’m actually a feinter, so they booked me in to an out patient facility rather than doing them in the doctor’s office – they put me out cold.
    I was given Tylenol 3, the stuff with codeine in it for the pain, enough for about 2 full days. I second the use of frozen veg.
    The two worst parts for me were laying on my back for two days as I suffer from back pain and now, whilst the hair grows back. Aside from that, it was uncomfortable at worst. 
    I agree about the being scared to use the equipment – it was a worry for me, but a needless one. ;)

  26. no no no no never. this has convinced me that twice a year with a hat is more that sufficient!

    I do recall a work mate that had it done and he mentioned the feeling of his guts being pulled down as they were finding the pipes.

    1.  if you’re only getting it twice a year then procreation probably isn’t a problem you should worry too much about. …the twice a year seems a bigger problem.

  27. Slightly off-topic, but commenting to say washing down Tylenol with bourbon is more than a little dangerous. Acetaminophen + alcohol = really bad news for your liver. You don’t even have to drink very much for that combo to cause serious damage. Stick to Ibuprofen if you’re planning on doing any drinking.

  28. Brief, some pain (bot nothing compared to, say, childbirth).  The funniest part of the whole procedure was then the nurse who shaved my bits offered to turn on some music, then it turned out to be something jarringly out of synch with what was going on (Red Hot Chili Peppers).

    Second funniest part was the waiting room in the clinic (which exists solely to perform vasectomies).  Half a dozen men in their thirties and forties, zero eye contact or interaction, 100% cell phone video game focused.  One by one we got called in. 

    1. My favorite part was walking through the waiting room and handing a paper bag to the receptionist for the “check”.  This place didn’t “solely” do vasectomies, but what else would a patient be doing bringing a paper bag and checking it in? haha!

      1. The old paper bag with a jar in it containing your semen thing. I’ve danced that jig a few times. If you are reading this and run an andrology lab, here’s two experiences from my life to help you decide how to handle this:

        1. The right way
        A slot in a door marked “Andrology Lab”, where you leave your bag and go on with your day.

        2. The wrong way
        Make me sit for 40 minutes in a waiting room full of young couples undergoing fertility treatment holding a big plastic bag and nothing else, then send me in a for a consultation with a lady who acts like a private school head mistress, smirks at the fact that I have the sample in two plastic bags (because hey, why not just have a small clear bottle of my semen on public display?) and then takes it out and checks for volume and consistency, double checking a bunch of information that was already supplied on paper for her convenience.

        Almost forgot, the private health insurance luxury fertility clinic way! Usher you into the state of the art recently refurbished masturbation suite, where you can take your time with a fresh jar and some hard core pron on the telly. When you’ve got over your initial discomfort at the whole ‘on-site’ thing, that’s the only way to fly.

    2.  Reminds me of the time I had my wisdom teeth removed, in high school. I’d never smoked pot or done drugs (still haven’t) but I was into a lot of 60’s music at the time.

      I was given general anesthesia (the only time in my life even now I’ve had anything stronger than OTC pain killers) and it would be a few minutes before taking effect. I was given a selection of CDs to listen to while I waited. The selection was pretty bad, but then there was Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu and I jumped at it.

      The anesthetic really kicked in during the third track, “Almost Cut My Hair”, which has a psychedelic guitar sound. I suddenly realized why people got high to listen to music in the 60’s. Actually, I’m not sure why I never tried to get high again after that. Kind of funny to think of the dentist as a gateway to drug use :)

  29. Pissing is sexual?
    Ps..things you know about your own male body aren’t “females weird  ignorances”.
    And my husband totally gets turned on when my boobs are out. Sounds like you have your own ignorances.

    1. One anecdote doesn’t speak for all. I think the point is that many women make assumptions about male sexuality that are not true for all, or many — similar to how men might make assumptions about women. It’s a fair point to bring up. 

      Talking to my boyfriend made me understand that nope, morning wood isn’t always sexual, and nope, sometimes I can’t rely on pure nudity and do have to make a sincere effort to arouse him (how horrid!). 

      Is it taboo somehow to say that women might not know everything about male physiology and sexuality now, or that some women make presumptions? 

  30. Fascinating, thoughtful post. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your thoughts.

    But a request: please to not be washing down Tylenol with bourbon! Acetaminophen + alcohol = bad times for liver. Seriously.

    (ETA: Dammit, scooped by ShawShaw.…)

  31. When I was pregnant with my second, and last, child, some kind of switch flipped in my brain and I realized I did not intend to have any more kids. More than that, I just WASN”T going to. It was weird and set me apart from all my friends even now. No baby cravings, no hope for a surprise. My husband had his vasectomy shortly after that and we were both satisfied. But that mental switch from being procreative, to not, is definitely strange.

  32. Over the next few days I lay by the pool, voided the efficacy my antibiotics by drinking Mai Tais, and waited for this all to end.

    I’m not a doctor, nor have I had the old boys tampered with as of yet, but unless Stephen Fry and the QI Elves goofed and got the info wrong, the prohibition of mixing alcohol with antibiotics was because the alcohol impaired human judgement, not drug effectiveness. (Note that Stephen does state that some antibiotics may actually react with alcohol, so ask your doctor if you’re getting a prescription.)

    That being said, I don’t think I’m likely to have children, so this might be worth considering someday.

  33. Mine wasn’t any big deal.  Went the scalpel-free route,  just local anesthesia,  no valium, drove myself home, and afterward I didn’t even use the pain meds they gave me.  I just got it done on a Friday afternoon then spent the weekend on the couch.  (I had a buddy that got it done on a Friday then went camping with the kids, and came home with a scrotum the size of a grapefruit – so really, follow the directions!).
    Also note that they’re generally reversible these days should you ever change your mind about making babies.  There’s just not any downside near as I can tell.

  34. I had myself sterilized when I was 24 through Planned Parenthood. They were wonderful about it. I’d heard horror stories about people being refused by condescending doctors for being too young or nulliparous (which I am) and I was prepared for an argument.

    The staff at Planned Parenthood was nothing but respectful, and I couldn’t be happier with my tubal. It’s been eleven years since I had it done, and I love it. Being sterile is the BEST.

    1.  Ha, beat you!  Had mine done at 23, since my wife and I didn’t want to pass on faulty genes.  And yes, being sterile is the best!

  35. Boy, am I ever glad I didn’t read this stuff when I got mine done. My doctor was (and is) a terribly crude wiseguy who threatened all kinds of pain and suffering, which had the effect of removing any anxiety I may have had (I was around 50, if memory serves. 65 now). No pain, no discomfort to speak of, ice packs and peas, saved the pain pills for the next time my wife needed ’em. A colleague was telling me the other day that he had the procedure reversed when he remarried and it was horrible. Not that I was tempted (65, right?), but an aspect I had never heard before.

  36. Your kids will need you as they continue to grow up. Even more than they do now. Your biological role in this life is far from over. Even after your kids are successfully launched, society will need your stories. We all move on towards a better age.

  37. Had the snip a number of years ago. Apart from a couple of days worth of tenderness (nothing a couple standard-strength Motrin didn’t fix), no issues whatsoever. Perfectly professional doc, took the missus to the initial consult as a precaution since we had no progeny, and ended up being totally unnecessary. The day of, a touch of injectible Valium, a couple of maximum-strength Tylenol, and a couple hours with an ice pack, and et voila. The weirdest thing is taking the post-V specimens to the lab for the all-clear.

  38. I’m 34, single, and a trainwreck of a person who doesn’t want kids or think he should have any. I genuinely want to be sterilised, but  it’s an op on my baaallllls!

    I know it’s technically less invasive than a tubal, but baaaalllls!


  39. So it sounds like you’re about two years behind me. If you stay on schedule, you should be having your gall bladder removed about this time next year. Have fun with that on!

  40. I really feel you´ve put into text the same considerations I had. Specially when you compare this simple procedure to the option of Fallopian tube access.
    I had mine in Chile after our third child (planed for two, welcomed three). 
    I had to search for a doctor, since mine could not preform the operation because his new job in the Catholic Hospital prohibited the procedure. He recommended  another doctor who was content to learn that I knew what I wanted.  Here it is mandatory to go into the OR, because that is how it´s done here (just as births, we had our first two in Canada and our third here and I wont bore you with the comparasion). I was given the option of spinal block or full KO; I opted for a snoose and had a wonderful sleep, woke up very refreshed and went home. Took it easy for a couple of days. The best part was going for a sperm count at the Catholic hospital. They are forced to do it, but the nurses treat the sample as if it was contaminated with ebola. They must live in fear of “intercourse-free pregnancies”!

  41. +1 for this being a non-event.  I experienced some pain during the procedure, the “tugging” that others have referred to.  I chalk that up to insufficient anesthesia though, and a urologist whose bedside manner is less than optimal (i.e. he kind of shrugged off my indications that I was feeling significantly more pain than I had expected).  But whatever, it was pretty brief.  Once it was done I really had no issues at all, probably took some prescription painkillers for the next 24 hours, but never really had any discomfort at all, then or since.  I took the next day off work but I feel like that was completely unnecessary.  Given the choice, I’d far rather have intense pain briefly during the op and no ongoing issues afterwards, and in principle the pain during the op was probably avoidable too.

  42. He really seems to have a pretty bleak outlook on life if he feels that our goal in life is to reproduce. I mean, no arguments about the truthiness of evolution, but I don’t see why we have to see dying with no children to be ‘losing’ or choosing to end your reproductive life to be ‘reaching the end game’. We are expecting a baby in September and will hopefully be adopting our foster son a short time afterwards, then I’ll be having the operation myself. I’m not pretending there are no philosophical issues involved, but at 29 I hardly think my useful life is over  just because I’m not going to impregnate anyone any more (for example, I have to make sure our baby grows up long enough to impregnate someone or be impregnated themselves if I want to ‘win’, right?)

  43. How very interesting, both the article and the comments. I chose a vasectomy because I have never wanted kids and once all my family were old enough to have everything realised it was readily apparent that mental health issues are absolutely rampant in my bloodline. These issues include (but are not limited to) schizophrenia, depression, addiction predilections, Munchausen Syndrome (not by proxy, thank Heaven), dyslexia (is that a pysch issue?), personality disorders and self-harm incidences…
    [As an aside, when my father’s depression and manic-depression (as it was called then) was diagnosed in the late 60’s my mother was told (forced?) to have a hysterectomy so HE could not father any more children! ]
    Anyway, this was sufficient motivation for me and my wife (who had always known I was determined not to produce offspring) noted that she was okay with this choice (not happy but okay) but would not be responsible for birth control. No problems, I said. Here in Australia all I had to do was ask for a referral to a specialist. I explained my reasons but he advised me that it was my choice and no other justification was required.
    He pointed out that the method that he used, which involved actual removal of tissue, rather than just “snip and tie” was particularly difficult to reverse and gave me the choice of doing it with a local or under a general anaesthetic. I’ve always had excellent experiences with generals, waking up fully rested and alert and comfortable, so I chose that option.
    When I woke after the surgery I was then given a certificate for 12 days off work, which annoyed me no end as I had only expected a day or two, maximum. (And in Australia you cannot work once that is issued unless the same doctor gives you a clearance!)Anyway, my wife found plenty to do around the house and I endured my enforced rest with good grace :-)Very little discomfort after the surgery, none at all once the first week passed and nothing in the 3 years since.I don’t discuss it often, as the subject doesn’t come up very often, but I would be a strong advocate if the occasion arose.Now, if only my wife’s doctor would stop telling her that it’s not too late to find a different partner so she can have kids….

  44. I got snipped right after New Years.

    There was definitely some ‘there’s something wrong here’ discomfort over the week or so following.  It just felt like something wasn’t right inside, and I got twinges occasionally that reminded me of getting a little pressure in the wrong place in the scrotal region.  I’m sure the guys in the room will know what I’m talking about.

    It gradually went away, and now I feel no different–except less likely to father a kid–than before.

    For me, there was no waiting period, no screwing around–I had my initial consultation and was in the operating room half an hour later.

    If you’re thinking of having it done, look for someone who does it with a single incision–no reason to go through double the healing on the outside.  Oh, and enjoy the very impressive bruising… wish I’d thought to take pictures, sort of.

  45. My vasectomy from over a decade ago went off with no problems, very mild pain at the time, soon ended. Having had two kids and one miscarriage, my wife and I mutually agreed that it was the best decision.  However, within a year of the operation, my wife decided that my usefulness to her was at an end, and she asked for a separation and then a divorce.  While I can’t say that the vasectomy was the only issue, I really think that it contributed.  A few years later she remarried and had another baby, after which husband #2 also had a vasectomy.  I guess his operation had a few more complications, and his recovery took longer, though i don’t know the details.  Anyway, from what i hear their marriage is on the rocks now, and it’s only a matter of time before they split.   I know this isn’t a typical story by any means, but before going through with it, you might want to gently examine your spouse’s opinions on fertility and manhood.  Will she really look at you the same way when you  can no longer contribute to the survival of her genes?  (And I know, I’m still contributing to raising our existing kids, but apparently it’s not quite the same thing.) Sorry if I sound bitter, since i quite like my life now, really.

  46. I forgot to mention…
    My mum tells me that older country folk (in rural Australia) refer to a vasectomy as “getting your teeth pulled”. Makes me laugh every time.

  47. Funny how many otherwise intelligent people view human fertility as some kind of disease that needs to be treated or a cancer that needs to be removed. 

    A little (free!) observation of the woman’s fertility markers, and a little self-control for 2-3 days a month, is all you need. 

    Sterilization is like getting your esophagus removed to avoid weight gain.  Yeah, it works, but holy mackerel, there are better options.

    1. Sterilization is like getting your esophagus removed to avoid weight gain. Yeah, it works, but holy mackerel, there are better options.

      It sounds better than having a piece of plastic wrap snugly applied to your face every time you decide to eat.

    2. “A little (free!) observation of the woman’s fertility markers, and a little self-control for 2-3 days a month, is all you need.”

      That, and money for an abortion if the 5% failure rate (at best!) for *perfect* use rears its ugly fetus head.

      And what about women who have irregular cycles?

      And what about women who have better things to do than make detailed notes about their vaginal discharges and underwear aromas?

      And what about women who like to fuck two or three times a day, every day of the month?

      It’s fine to not want a vasectomy, of course, but I detect some holier-than-thou and smarter-than-thou attitudes in your comment.

      I’m happy to stick with the pill because it treats my acne along with preventing pregnancy. If it fails, I’ve already got savings to cover a ‘scrape-and-suck special’ at the local Planned Parenthood.

    3. Naturalistic fallacy, try again.

      My body, I do what I want with it. I don’t want kids, therefore, it IS a disease (and that’s what the hospital admission form said: Reason for Admission: Persistent Fertility)

    4. Yeah, that’s not applicable at all. At the very worst this is like getting your stomach stapled to lose weight and all the free observation of markers and self-control in the world will still result in popping out a sucker. Our UID was 98% effective or whatever and we have #3. We don’t want #4.

      I wrote this as a) a description of the experience to folks who might be thinking about it and b) as a meditation on life and children. I look forward to your forthcoming piece about to the exciting times you and your partner have examining vaginal mucous. 

  48.  One of the things that surgeons often don’t explain well enough to patients is that anaesthesia blocks _pain_ nerves. You will often, as noted, still feel pressure/tugging, and you have to consciously remind yourself to note that, while odd, it really doesn’t hurt.  (I haven’t gone thru this procedure, but with several teeth pulled and implants to replace them I’ve had my share of “interesting, I can feel the bone breaking free”.) And, yes, when it’s something that doesn’t map to established body image it’s likely to be odd.

    Which is one reasons some folks prefer general anaesthesia despite it having much greater risks than local — if they’re out, they don’t have to think about what’s going on. Definitely not a recommended solution, but it is an option.

  49. I’ve been dithering about this for decades. 

    I’ve long been in the “don’t think I’ll ever want kids” camp… but I was hesitating in case life took a left turn and I wound up deeply involved with someone who felt otherwise and specifically wanted my genes.  And since I’ve never been particularly promiscuous, I didn’t consider the “sales advantage” aspect significant.

    Given that I now consider myself middle-aged, odds are that this will never be an issue. But that also means that, very soon, any lady I’m involved with will be likely to be post-menopausal, which solves the breeding problem non-surgically.

    I really do wish that the drug companies hadn’t chickened out of developing a male equivalent of the pill. Something that could be more easily reversed would have been a more attractive option, and I don’t like putting the burden on my partner. And condoms just aren’t equivalent, though they’re acceptable as a fallback.

    I may yet talk myself into it. But at this point I think that’s unlikely unless my current long-term relationship ends AND some Sweet Young Thing decides she’s interested. Neither of which is especially likely.

  50. It was the United States Supreme Court who inspired me to have my own vasectomy. When in 2007 they upheld the so-called Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, I felt it wouldn’t be very long before Roe v. Wade would be history. So I got snipped.

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