Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. I took the road that led to getting snowed under by an anesthesiologist and having my vas deferens snipped in an outpatient procedure. And friends I’m here to tell you it’s not that bad.
Four years ago my wife and I were enjoying a week in the wine region of Hungary. We drove past verdant fields, quaint towns and vineyards famous for sweet Tokai wine and dry Magyar Chardonnay. We popped in to visit winemakers who kept their wares in huge, old barrels and spilled their latest vintage into plastic 2-liter bottles.
My wife loved dry wines and she started to try a few sips. Time after time she said the wine was awful. I knew that the wine was fine. A little young, a little weird, but just fine.
For four straight days, I watched some alarming swelling and felt a lot of tenderness. And then all was right with the world.
“You’re pregnant,” I said. This had happened before, with our first two kids. Her sense of taste changed.
She said she had an IUD. It was impossible that she was pregnant.
We bought a test.
Turns out it wasn’t. We spent a few weeks in Europe and, during a visit with a Polish doctor to confirm the pregnancy, I asked if I could get a vasectomy right away. Interestingly, the doctor said he couldn’t on pro-life grounds. He was almost certain it was illegal in Poland and he didn’t want to mess with it.
And so I found myself, a few months after my third child was born, heading to a Manhattan-based urologist for something that would change my life in a very real way. I lay down on a table and the doctor asked me to unbuckle. A little prick and I was pretty much anesthetized and ready to rumble. An hour later I was on a train home and then, for four straight days, I watched some alarming swelling and felt a lot of tenderness. And then all was right with the world.
At its core the vasectomy is a relatively painless procedure that keeps you from having kids. My wife and I already had three when I went under the knife and we didn’t want any more. Now four years later, I felt compelled to see just what’s changed when it comes to stabbing your jubblies to halt stop the production of offspring. But first, a brief foray into what exactly cutting your junk entails.
There has been some work toward a sort of on/off switch for male fertility, whether in pill form or a unique (and kind of creepy) system that you control from a subcutaneous switch. However these solutions appear to still be a few years off.
The biggest change in modern vasectomies has to be the methodology. For decades—heck, even centuries—the primary method was cutting into the scrotal area for some vas deferens access. I talked to Dr. Draion M. Burch, the “Official Sexual Health and Wellness Advisor for Astroglide” (really) about the operation.
The old method involved injecting a local anesthetic into the scrotum and cutting a small incision on either side to reach the tubes. The doctor then cuts and/or cauterizes the ends of the tubes leaving you with a small suture and a lot of swelling for a few days.
But these days there’s an even better option.
“In the no-incision method (no scalpel), the skin of the scrotum is not cut,” said Dr. Drai. “One tiny puncture is made to reach both tubes. The tubes are then tied off, cauterized, or blocked with surgical clips. The tiny puncture heals very quickly. There are no stitches or scarring. The bruising is minimal.”
There has been some work toward a sort of on/off switch for male fertility, whether in pill form or a unique (and kind of creepy) system that you control from a subcutaneous switch. When you flip the switch, a small plunger closes onto the vas deferens and keeps the sperm safe at home. However these solutions appear to still be a few years off.
It’s a strange feeling to know that you are never going to be able to hold another little one that you made yourself, especially at the age of 40.
Most vasectomies go off without a hitch. My personal journey was a little rough. After the operation we immediately flew to the Dominican Republic where I assumed I’d be able to lie around on a hammock and drink beers. Instead I carried huge suitcases, wrangled toddlers and infants, and spent hours in bed with a cold can of beer between my legs and not in my mouth.
In the end, however, everything went back to normal.
“Very rarely does someone get chronic pain after the vasectomy from back pressure on the epididymis or the testicle,” says Dr. Philip Werthman, M.D., a urologist in L.A. “This is a real phenomenon but again quite uncommon and can also be treated.”
“From a psychological standpoint most patients seem to be quite pleased after having a vasectomy in that they are relieved that they won’t father child by accident,” he explains. “I believe the patients who have psychological issues after vasectomy are those who were talked into getting a vasectomy by their spouse or partner and really didn’t want one.”
Losing potency is a real thing. There is something at once freeing and disconcerting about not being able to (easily) have more kids. My wife and I didn’t want any more and I’m pretty certain I’m going to stick by that decision until I die. The sex, if you’re asking, is great simply because there is no fear of more babies. It’s a strange feeling, however, to know that you are never going to be able to hold another little one that you made yourself, especially at the age of 40.
“I personally have not heard of any of my patients having regrets about a vasectomy,” notes Werthman, stressing that men should think long and hard before going under the knife.
“It is important that men view vasectomy as a permanent solution. Most men who believe that reversal of vasectomy can restore their fertility are in for a disappointment.”
Ultimately it’s up to the dude to decide whether or not they want the snip-snip. Sure it’s a joint decision but in the end, it’s your junk. I, for one, am pleased with my liberating state of mine.