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December 29, 2011

I have heard a good number of stories from and of vasectomies, some of which are actual accounts, some of which are reasoned speculation and some of which are wild guesswork, and none of which are close enough to mine to warrant comparison, so while the memory is still fresh in my mind, I figured I would pen it for those who are in the same boat.

            I knew from at least the age of twelve that I didn’t want children. By the age of about fifteen or sixteen I was certain of it. A few months before my eighteenth birthday, I began researching vasectomy as a permanent – nay, the only real – option. My reasoning was that if I were to play with a loaded gun long enough, I’d eventually wind up pulling the trigger, the safety would malfunction and it wouldn’t be blanks coming out the barrel. For a permanent decision, I needed permanent options.

            Through the few instances in media where vasectomies were addressed (as vasectomies themselves, never in conjunction with the childfree; the childfree are never properly addressed in media) I had had ingrained in me several false notions about the procedure. Many a television show had tried to joke about the man who would snip and the reverse when the time was right, and many a comedian would joke about the story after he’s already had two or three children. I had heard that one needed to be at least thirty years of age by law, that he needed at least one child by law, that he needed to be legally married, or that that he needed to be evaluated by a certified psychologist.

            None of those are true. In the United States and Canada (all fifty states and all thirteen provinces/territories) you need only be eighteen years of age by law. There are no prerequisites on existing children or marital status. No psychological evaluation is required. No sperm need be frozen as an insurance policy either.

            My doctor lives in my childhood town of Belleville, which is a little over an hour from my current residence near Oshawa. As a result, I only see him once every one to two years, for a routine physical. When I was twenty-two, I chickened out of asking him. When I was twenty-three, I didn’t have a physical for whatever reason, probably due to a busy schedule. Finally, when 2011 rolled around, I told myself I had to take this seriously. Various other major events in my life had already run their course or had been postponed, so I told myself that my next big life project would be sterilisation.

            I had made an appointment for a physical in February of 2011, but the appointment was cancelled because of a freak snowstorm. Upon rescheduling in March, I let my doctor run through the physical and draw up his forms for what blood work he’d want, then explained to him my desire to seek sterilisation as protectionism of my childfreedom.

            My doctor explained to me that he would never hinder a patient’s chosen course of action for their own body, and went on to elucidate the procedure. It is covered by OHIP, but reversal is not. It is only considered reversible up to two years after the procedure, with success rate diminishing as more time goes on. After two years, the odds render it to be considered irreversible. Reversal can be a very costly procedure.

            He made sure I understood all that, then marked it on the chart that he would be sending in a referral to a urologist. He said he would try for a urologist in my area, so I wouldn’t have to drive back to Belleville for each of the coming appointment.

            If memory serves, that was on a Wednesday. On Thursday, I received a call from my doctor’s receptionist, saying the referral had been sent into a Dr. So-and-So, and I should be expecting a call within the next day or two.

            On Friday, my doctor’s receptionist called again to say, “They…don’t do that procedure.” This, of course, is the polite way of saying the urologist got one look at my age and sent it back. But not to worry, a new referral was sent to Dr. What’s-his-name, in the same building.

            On Monday, there was another call saying the same thing. One look at my age…. But not to worry, same building, one more doctor. As of Tuesday, there was no rejection call, and on Wednesday, my doctor’s receptionist called to confirm a consultation appointment on June ninth.

            Of course the appointment wasn’t exactly on time, and I was about as terrified as I could be. Here I needed to plead my case to a complete stranger. Once I made it in there, the entire consultation lasted only about ten minutes. The first question he asked was my age, then the number of children I had. I figured that would be the end of it. But surprisingly, he went on. He asked if I was sure of my decision, then asked a few more times; “Are you really sure?”…

            He didn’t say anything condescending. Once he was satisfied that was certain, he produced a consent form for me to sign, then told me to drop my pants and get on the table. He located the vas, and explained what he’d be doing during the procedure. I was to be conscious the entire time, under a local anesthetic. I was free to eat beforehand and drive myself home. I could purchase over-the-counter Tylenol or Advil for any persisting pain. The procedure would last no more than thirty minutes.

            I then pulled up my pants and an appointment was made for late September. I immediately booked a week off work, because I work as a construction labourer and couldn’t be expected to perform that type of labour afterwards. Had I worked in a cubical farm, I could return to work as early as the next day, depending upon healing, but for a physically demanding job, a week was advisable.

            That week was actually a week and half, because the surgery fell on a Wednesday, and served as my vacation for the year. Upon arriving at the hospital, I was ushered through various mazes of the Day Surgery wing, at each stop going through some other preparatory step; showing my health card, changing into the gown, confirming the right procedure, moving to the next waiting room, etc.

            When I was finally on the table, I had a sheet draped over me with a hole for my genitals, and he bathed my scrotum in the antiseptic solution. I was terrified of the one thing I was guaranteed to feel: the initial freezing needle. We’ve all had that dentist who buys his blunt needles at the dollar store and stabs you five of six times with jittery fingers before it’s in the gum, and I figured that’s what his would be like.

            I wasn’t. The needle was a proper surgical needle, sharp as a katana and went into me like butter. The urologist was standing on my right, injecting the left side. The needle and the incision were on the front of the scrotum, just below where the urethra disappears into the scrotum and into the body. I did feel it go in, but whatever pain I felt was minor and fleeting. Then I felt pressure as the numbing agent was pushing in. He gave it about ten to fifteen seconds, then began cutting. I didn’t feel that at all. I was not watching this directly, because frankly I didn’t want to see it, but I could see his hands moving about.

            After no time at all, he said, “The left side’s done,” and proceeded to the right. He injected the right side, which I scantly felt but felt entirely with no pain because the freezing from the left had spread over enough. Then he took the scalpel and moved from the existing incision outwards to the right, expanding it.

            I could feel it. It still didn’t hurt, because the left side’s freezing was keeping the pain at bay, but I could feel the skin tearing. I quickly realised that the left side’s freezing would only go so far, and he’d soon cut into fresh skin, so I quickly said, “I can still feel that.” He stopped cutting for no more than five seconds, then returned to it. Now, I could feel nothing.

            Again, it was over surprisingly quickly. He pulled out a tool to singe the vas shut at both ends, and as soon as I heard the hissing on that heat on my flesh, I knew it was done, and that I had the best type of vasectomy on the market.

            He stitched it up with two stitches, which worked wonderfully because there were on such loose skin. I thanked him and shook his hand, and he told me his receptionist would be calling me in the next few days to set up a checkup for the end of October, where he would confirm that I was sterile.

            Although I was completely clear to drive myself home, I had made arrangements for my brother to pick me up. The freezing would last about an hour, I’d been told, and I wasn’t sure if I had any painkillers at the house, so my brother stopped and picked up some Motrin for me.

            About an hour after the procedure, I took one pill, not because I was in pain, but because I was abiding by Motrin’s time limits and wanted to make sure I took one by none o’clock so I could sleep properly. So I took one at five even though I didn’t yet feel pain. I took another at nine, despite the lack of pain, and slept comfortably through the night. The following morning, I still felt no pain and decided not to take a pill until I did.

            I never did.

            There was so swelling of the testicles themselves (particularly on the left), but they didn’t really hurt unless I wore tight pants, which I quickly abandoned in favour of loose sweats. I was going to the gym by the third day, and masturbating by the fourth, if memory serves. I am usually supersensitive to tactile stimuli, but I think my body realised for once what a massive favour I did it and decided not to bitch about a little incision.

            Come the end of October, I went to the checkup, where he issued me two sample tubes and told me to collect one sample now and another at least thirty days afterwards. Sometimes, even a third sample is needed because the body needs just that much time to clear out the residual sperm.

            I went home and immediately collected a sample, and dropped it off at the nearby lab. At the end of November, I took off from work early, collected another sample, and dropped that off as well. The lab technician explained it takes about a week for the results to come in, so after a week and half or two weeks, I called up the urologist to see if the results were in yet.

            Since they can never give you information over the phone, an appointment was made for December twenty-second, where he showed me the results of both sperm tests. Both said, “No sperm detected.”

            I asked the all-important question about the possibility of a self-reversal, and he explained it’s about a one in five thousand chance. Then he shook my hand again, I thanked him once more, and was done.

            It is an immediate load off my mind and a decision I’m thoroughly and utterly happy with. I couldn’t have asked for it have gone any smoother.Image


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One Comment
  1. DLadyEarlyGrey permalink

    That sounded much more pleasant than my ligation. I wish I could have been awake for my procedure.

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