Yesterday, I got snipped. As in, went to Dr. Snippy. As in, got a vas ligation – AKA, a vasectomy.
And today, I’m lying in bed thinking: I don’t feel that bad at all. So what was all the anxiety and worrying about?
When it comes to medical procedures involving our tenderest parts, we men can get wimpy – so wimpy that marketers of female contraceptive devices use it sell women their products. We can get preoccupied with the details and lose site of the bigger picture, which is this: vasectomies are a common, low-risk, minimally invasive procedure that men can, and should, undertake after their reproductive years are over.
With this in mind, I’ve written the following short guide to having a vasectomy. If you are considering this procedure – but worrying way too much about it and making up complex excuses for why you don’t want to have it – I offer you my own experience and learnings which can be summarized in a phrase: get over yourself, man.
1. A vasectomy is not as bad as you may imagine. I’m not suggesting this is a pleasant procedure or that it is completely free of anxiety or pain, but in the grand scheme of things it is not that bad. Your typical sports injuries are much more painful. Hell, getting a baseball in the groin area is way worse. If suffering kidney stones are a 10 in terms of pain experience, then getting a vasectomy is like a 1 or 2. In other words, the bark is worse than the bite.
2. Find a doctor you trust. Start by asking your physician for a referral, but don’t hesitate to ask your buddies about their experiences. If I’m going to let anyone near my scrotum with sharp objects, it’s got to be a person in whom I have a high degree of trust and confidence. Someone who has a good reputation among people in the know. Find a male doctor that’s had a vasectomy and go to his surgeon.
3. Avoid too much information. There are a wide variety of methods for doing vasectomies these days and lots of then are minimally invasive, avoiding the use of a scalpel or even a needle in applying the local anesthetic. (The ones that avoid a scalpel use a knitting needle. Joking.) But beware of doing too much research. Even a casual YouTube or Google image search on “vasectomy” reveals (don’t go there – I’m warning you) some very disturbing images that may have little to do with the type of procedure you’re having. My strategy: approach it on a “need to know” basis combined with a dose of willful ignorance. I knew there would be a needle to start, then some pulling and tugging, and I’d be on my way in about 15 minutes. Seriously, if you’re in the hands of a trusted surgeon, does anybody need to know more than that?
4. Shaving can be enjoyable. If you’re not used to shaving your nether regions, the experience can be, well, enlightening. Basically, the strategy here is to use the electric trimmer to get as short as you can, then move in with the blade. I used the same high-end shaving gel that I use on my face, only to discover a more pronounced cooling effect on the more sensitive scrotal skin. Nice. A note to self-shavers: the theatre of operations is basically the front of the scrotum, but getting to the left side with the right hand (and vice versa) can be dodgy. Don’t switch the razor to your left hand unless you are capably ambidextrous. In the end, I’m thinking it might be worth keeping the area shaved for a while. “Your wife will love it,” my urologist told me as I lay on my back staring at the ceiling. I’ll bet he says that to all the guys.
5. Take time to recover. Vasectomies where I come from are scheduled on Friday mornings, giving you a full three days to recover over the weekend. Use that time wisely to rest and relax. Now is the time to recognize that your body has undergone some trauma and you need to taker ‘er easy. Stay horizontal and apply ice regularly to reduce swelling. Abandon the boxers and find a pair of tighter underwear for the first few days back at work – it helps to keep the boys tucked in and not dangling all about.
6. Work it on out. After your vasectomy is completed, it still takes some time for the sperm to be cleared out of your system – as many as 15-20 ejaculations are required to become sperm-free. Around three months after the procedure is done, you will need to get sperm count test to confirm success.
7. Can I reverse a vasectomy? If this is a serious question or you can imagine it as a plausible scenario, you should probably hold off on the surgical procedure and stick with a love glove.