Some decisions you can make lightly (beer or wine); other decisions need careful consideration beforehand (let the wife choose the kitchen colour scheme or cause yourself endless, pointless misery contesting it). A vasectomy is the latter….
Our resident Daddy Blogger, Chris Gable shares (every detail of) his vasectomy journey. And guess what guys? He survived…
For us, vasectomy wasn’t a tough decision. My marriage is happy and I can’t fathom more kids. I had no real concerns about the surgery itself; it’s a very straightforward, simple procedure. My wife wanted to go off the pill and, like all guys, I despise condoms! My wife went through two pregnancies & natural births so I’m wasn’t about to suggest a hysterectomy (a far more invasive procedure than a vasectomy). Most importantly, we knew when we brought our second daughter Jaime home that the family was complete. Yes, we were done!
So, twelve days ago, I got the snip! Here’s a brief rundown of what it is and what it was like.
Clutching our baby Jaime in her capsule, I had a consultation with a highly recommended urologist from the NSW Central Coast. His name is Dr Little. (Seriously!)
First the doctor emphasised this should be treated as a permanent decision; though reversals have been done successfully, there’s no guarantee.
He then explained how a vasectomy works. Basically when it’s done you can’t tell any difference without a high-powered microscope or a measuring flask. Instead of sperm cells coming out in your ejaculate, they’re simply absorbed by the body over time, as already actually happens to some extent. It takes about two months or twenty ejaculations to flush your system, at which time you give a semen sample to a pathology clinic and they’ll let you know if you’re officially done reproducing forever.
[Some say that it affects your personality, but allow me – and every urologist in the world – to assure you that’s simply not true. It has nothing whatsoever to do with hormones; it “changes” you no more or less than does getting stitches for a minor injury.]
Using basic diagrams, Dr Little explained the procedure: after injecting two small local anaesthetics (one either side of the scrotum), he pushes a pointed clamp through the skin to access the vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the urethra) which are then clamped, cut and cauterised closed, then he stitches the scrotum closed with a single stitch either side. The procedure takes about 15 mins; you’re at the clinic about two hours in total. They recommend getting driven, as the pre-surgery pethidine injection they give you to help you relax can make driving dangerous. The recovery time is 2-3 days of doing as little as possible, then after four days you take out the stitches (he chooses not to use dissolving ones, not sure why) and you’re good to go.
Dr Little then gave me a quick physical exam and said all was fine, and instructed me to completely shave myself (ie with a razor) the day before the procedure. We then booked the procedure for a day preceding a 3-day stretch of not working.
Day of your vasectomy procedure
My wife drops me at the clinic around 1130am. I go straight in and am given a stylish hospital robe to wear, then shortly after that they give me a pethidine injection to help me relax. I don’t feel particularly anxious, but hey, whatever! The pethidine doesn’t do a lot for me – I’d compare it to two glasses of wine. Quite pleasant but not particularly altering!!
I lie there reading for 45 mins, then Dr Little arrives and wheels me into the operating theatre. He douses my balls in antiseptic, then tells me the worst part is coming up – the needles for the local anaesthetic. I can report that it feels exactly like you expect two needles in your scrotum would feel. Less than great. A LOT less. Yikes. The best thing that can be said about it is that within 20 seconds the pain is completely gone.
The procedure is over quite quickly – 10 minutes or so – during which the good doctor and I chat merrily about travel, music and other inane subjects, exactly as if he isn’t up to his wrists in my innards. I ask how many of these he thinks he’s done, and he responds, “oh, gee, I have no idea. A lot. I’ve done five or six a week, give or take, for 35 years.” A quick math break and I realise I could be his 8,000th patient. Gotta assume the man knows his way around a urethra by now.
Afterwards he slides on the supportive underwear I was instructed to bring and wishes me well. I leave the clinic about half an hour later and am delivered home by my wife, feeling a little tender but overall better than I expected to feel.
The doctor and nurses all go to great lengths to insist I take it as easy as possible. Because there was so little initial pain for the first 24 hours, I may have overdone it slightly. After a day I basically go into normal stay-at-home Dad mode – playing with the kids, taking them for walks in the mornings, driving my manual car, going up & down stairs without thinking about it.
Two days afterwards, the bruising has really come on strong. Half my scrotum is black, and one side is a bit swollen. It still doesn’t hurt much, but I’m very tender around the stitches. I was told to expect some bruising so I basically soldier on assuming it’s all normal, although I try to take it a little easier and lie down more.
Four days afterwards, the bruising is even more spectacular, particularly on the swollen side, which is getting pretty painful around the stitch. I try to take the stitches out as instructued; the non-swollen side is extremely easy to remove, but on the other side the skin seems to have healed around & swallowed the stitch, and I can’t access it enough to cut it without cutting myself, which I DO NOT want to do.
I head down to the clinic; the nurse has a look at the bruising and says, in a tone that completely fails to soothe, “um… wow, yeah… okay, I’m gonna get Dr Little”. He comes in, takes one look and says it’s all totally fine. Removes the stitch in about two seconds and it immediately feels better. He agrees the bruising looks scary, but it’s absolutely no cause for concern.
I’m writing this two weeks after the procedure, and everything is back to normal. The bruising is completely gone; that ejaculatory pain happened once again, milder, and then not at all since. I can only barely tell where the stitches were. The worst thing about it was the itching from shaving – about a week afterwards it was driving me insane! Argh!
In about six weeks I’ll take a sample to the pathology lab and then I’ll know if I’ve worn my last condom. Geez I bloody hope so…
Is a vasectomy right for you?
If you’re considering it for yourself, make sure you treat the decision with the proper weight you should. It’s not something you should do on a whim; if you think you probably don’t want kids, you’re not ready.
My first marriage was short, incredibly turbulent and largely unhappy. Right before it ended I broke my ex-wife’s heart by telling her I didn’t want kids. I didn’t realise it at the time but what I meant is that I didn’t want kids with her. I realised that within months of meeting my current wife; three years later, our first was born and it’s utterly pointless trying to describe the joy she’s brought us. If you’re a parent, you already know anyway.
All I’m saying is that minds – and lives – can change dramatically. Bear that in mind before deliberately rendering yourself sterile.
However, if you’re entirely satisfied with the children you have, if you hate condoms, if you trust in your marriage, if you feel it’s only fair to spare her from a hysterectomy, and you already habitually shave your balls… then you have nothing to worry about.
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