Vasectomy. Just reading the word is enough to make most men clutch at themselves and cringe. I admit, I was one of those men not that long ago.
My wife and I have two beautiful children, aged 6 and 9. About two years ago, we began talking about ensuring that there were no more. We discussed the various ways that we could make sure of that and initially, I dismissed the idea of a vasectomy. I was sure that by undergoing that procedure I’d somehow come out as less of a man.
We turned to the internet for guidance and found many pros and cons to both tubal ligation and vasectomy, but it wasn’t until I watched a horribly graphic YouTube video in which a tubal ligation was performed that I decided that if I wanted to remain true to my beliefs and be the gentleman I claimed to be, a vasectomy was the only option. It was absolutely the least-invasive option of the two.
I began to research vasectomy options in earnest and discovered that, in the province of Ontario (where I live), the provincial health plan (OHIP) will cover the procedure, provided that you use a provincially funded health care practitioner rather than a private clinic. Admittedly, the cost at a private clinic was only about $150-$250, but I am of the opinion that if my taxes are paying for health care, I should take advantage of it. The benefit of a private clinic is that their wait-times are much lower so if you are looking to have it done soon, that may be the best route.
I spoke to my family doctor and arranged for her to make a referral to a well-respected urologist who operated locally.
In preparation, we looked at some more YouTube videos and discovered that there were two methods of performing the vasectomy: The traditional “with scalpel” technique; and the less invasive “without scalpel” technique. Though the end result is the same, there is a vas deferens between the two (bad vasectomy humour). I chose the no-scalpel method, mainly due to my fears of the doctor sneezing while performing the incision.
When the day came for my consultation with the surgeon, I have to say, I was getting cold feet. When I walked into the exam room and he uttered the dreaded phrase “ok, please remove your pants and underwear and lay down on the table”, I nearly bolted. Abstinence is also 100% effective… But instead I steeled my nerve and laid down. The doctor then began his examination which, at that point in my life, was the most awkward thing I’d ever endured. He explained, while examining me, that I would receive a local anesthetic to dull the pain during the surgery and then, to prepare me, simulated the pain of the anesthetic needle by giving me a squeeze. I inhaled all of the oxygen in the room in one gasp. Clearly, this was not going to be a completely pain-free experience. The doctor went on to explain what would happen afterwards with the clamp, the electrocauterizer and then the stitches. Yes, stitches. Just two, but the thought of that almost triggered my fight or flight mechanism again.
After about 6 months on the wait list, I was given a surgery date for April. By this point, I’d come to terms with what was going to happen and had mentally prepared myself. The fear was gone, replaced with the knowledge that what I was doing was the most gentlemanly thing I could possibly do for my wife and our future plans; plans that definitely did not include more children.
My wife drove me to the hospital early in the morning. My appetite was low, so I’d skipped breakfast and my morning coffee, even though I wasn’t required to fast. While we waited, she bolstered my spirits by showing me vasectomy memes and reading me vasectomy jokes she had looked up online. When the nurse came to walk me into surgery, my wife gave me a kiss and told me she’d be waiting on the other side (of the hospital, she’s not that fatalistic).
The embarrassment briefly returned when I realized that this young, female nurse would be seeing my bits. All of them. But, with a stiff upper lip (and nothing else), I lay on the table and thought very hard about what I needed to do for work for the next few weeks, mentally writing material for my day job and this post.
The needle, if anything, hurt more than the doctor’s initial simulation. Now, part of this might have been that the doctor had said “I’ll count down… 3,2,1 and ouch” the needle will go in. As I lay there in my birthday suit, the doctor said “Counting down… 3…2…1…ouch…” and nothing. I had time to think “wow, that wasn’t bad at all” before I was stabbed in the testicle. The doctor had apparently taken an extra second after “ouch” to actually insert the needle. I wasn’t prepared. Again, all of the oxygen was pulled out of the room and into my lungs in a hiss. The heart-rate monitor briefly increased its “beep beep” rate and then… I couldn’t feel anything down there. About 5 minutes later, I heard the electrocauterizer spool up and fire and then the doctor said “ok, that’s the left one, now the right. You still ok?” I responded that I was doing great, never better.
As it turned out, the freezing hadn’t completely taken on the other side, so I felt some of what he was doing. The pain wasn’t what I thought it would be though. I felt the electrocauterizer go off, and it wasn’t much different than touching an exposed wire. A bit of a shock and then it was over. Stitches went in and I was helped into a wheelchair for the ride to recovery. Total time in the OR was about 20 minutes.
The next few hours are a bit of a blur. My appetite returned, so we went to a local all-day breakfast place for some comfort food. At some point there, the anesthetic wore off. The pain wasn’t as sharp or unbearable as I’d imagined though. It was more like the dull ache I’ve grown accustomed to over the past 9 years – because children are like guided missiles to the testicles whenever they throw something, swing a bat or rush to greet you when you come in the door.
In the end, my early worries were unfounded. I’m still a man, a father and a husband. In a few days, I’ll have use of my bits back, though I’ll need to submit two samples over the next couple of months just to make sure that the surgery did its job and there are no happy surprises. The word vasectomy is part of my lexicon now and doesn’t make me cower and cover myself when it’s said in conversation. I have the knowledge that I did the right thing and didn’t push my wife into having an invasive surgery simply because I was afraid to have my pants down in a doctor’s office.
When all is said and done, I think that going through with the procedure made me more of a man, not less of one. Anyone who presents themselves as a gentleman should be able to make the same decision.