Vasectomy experience

Well, I did it. My vasectomy was yesterday morning. Recovery kinda sucks: I’m pretty sore, I’m walking a little funny, and I have to be careful not to let the cats jump in my lap. Read on for details (I’ll try not to get too graphic).

The Story

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known I don’t want children, and I’ve been thinking about getting a vasectomy for years. So finally, in late 2002, I decided to do it. First, I called my insurance company (at the time, Aetna) to make sure it would be covered. They informed me they cover 100% of voluntary sterilization which, of course, raised the question of how much they would cover if it were involuntary. I only had to pay a $15 office visit co-pay. Then I got a referral to a urologist from my regular doctor, and made an appointment for an initial consultation about it at the end of October.

The consultation is mandatory. They want to make sure you understand what you’re doing, make sure you’re not being pressured into it by someone, and so on. My consultation was pretty quick and easy. I expected to be hassled about not already having children, but the doctor mainly just wanted to make sure I understood the permanence of the procedure. He emphasized this point a few times until I interrupted him to tell him I’ve been sure about this for quite a few years now and I’ve already researched the procedure on the web and really my only reason for being there was that I had a few specific questions I wanted answered. After that he relaxed and answered my questions without incident. I’m sure that would have gone differently if I were a woman without children wanting a tubal ligation.

I was also given a really great pamphlet called “Understanding Vasectomy”, which asks tough questions like “Will being sterile make you feel like less of a man?” and “If you have children, what if one or more of them dies?”. It also informed me that “If you decide to be sterilized, you can still change your mind at any time before the operation”. It was a relief to find that I wouldn’t have to sign a contract in blood at my consultation.

The Procedure

My vasectomy was scheduled for Friday, January 3, 2003, bright and early at 9:30am. Once the day came, I waited ten minutes or so to be called in, and then maybe another ten minutes while the room was prepped. The procedure was done in the doctor’s office, in one of the examination rooms. Sarai came along because I needed someone to drive me home afterward; she didn’t watch the procedure, but they seemed to be ok with spectators if that’s what we wanted. The whole thing, from arriving at the doctor’s office to leaving took almost exactly one hour. I think the procedure itself took maybe 30 – 40 minutes. I was pretty nervous, but I kept thinking the tattoo mantra “Short is the pain, long is the reward”.

I had what’s called a “scalpeless” vasectomy. The name is just a gimmick, the doctor explained, as it’s not much different from the regular procedure. Normally a scalpel is used to make short incisions. In the no-scalpel procedure they make a small hole and stretch the skin open. Neither is less painful than the other, but apparently some people prefer the scalpeless version because the name gives the impression that it will be less painful. Either way, you get two holes and you get a couple stitches afterward. After hearing the descriptions in my initial consultation I told the doctor to use whatever procedure he prefers. He finds the scalpeless procedure easier, so that’s what we went with.

I was given a local anesthetic in two shots, one on each side. The injections were probably the most painful part. Once the lidocaine kicked in we got to work. There was a little pain, but mostly some really strange tugging sensations. The doctor made small talk throughout the procedure, we talked about movies (James Bond and Lord of the Rings) and body piercing mostly. Piercing came up when he told me the vasectomy would probably be less painful than my tongue piercing and seemed surprised when I told him that was good news, because my tongue piercing really didn’t hurt much at all. For the record, he was wrong, but overall it wasn’t any worse than, say, a root canal. It was uncomfortable, but bearable. If I had to do it over again, I would.

I kept my eyes closed through most of it, because I’m a chicken like that. I have no trouble watching my own body piercing, but this kinda squicked me for some reason so I decided not to watch. Even when I did have my eyes open briefly, I couldn’t see much because of the way I was laying.

I was not given painkillers, I was just told to take ibuprofen as needed. Once the anesthetic started wearing off I was getting sore and had a little pain at the points of the incisions. I took 800mg when I got home (because I had one pill left from an old prescription) and took two 200mg tablets every 6 – 8 hours or so after that to help with the lingering soreness. I was also given antibiotics for five days.

Recovery

I was told to take it easy the first weekend and I’d probably be ready to go back to work on Monday. The recovery process was going a little slower than expected so I was still swollen and sore on Tuesday. After that I was mostly ok, but for a few days I had to be careful sitting down or getting up. I was walking a little funny, and I had to try to keep the cats from jumping on my lap. Ice packs were recommended to help with the swelling, and as you might imagine, putting an ice pack in your pants is not the most pleasant thing.

I had to wait about three months before I could be certain that I’m sterile; it can take that long for your system to be completely cleaned out. I got tested after about four and was 100% sterile. I can also go back for testing again at any time if I feel the need to be reassured of this fact.

Comments

Brandon Thomson says:

Fascinating, thanks for writing about your experience.

Devin says:

I’d like to leave a quick note thanking your for sharing your experience. It was detailed (not gory) & super informative. My husband & I have 2 children – with one more currently in utero. We’ve been researching vasectomy & so far have come upon sterile (pardon the pun) & ultra clinical descriptions of the procedure. Your account has helped us in our research. Thanks again for posting!

Jesse says:

Thanks for sharing your experience. Heading in tomorrow morning for mine so getting some last little info before I take the plunge into womenhood.

Rob says:

Thank for sharing your experience.

I just had this done to me, 3 days ago. Believe me this is not what I was told! Somebody told me this would be painless, just a little discomfort for a day. To me the vasectomy is really painful. Those needles the doctor used to freeze my balls were so painful. Even worse, he had to use freezing for a second time because I felt I was being tortured with only one doses, that HURT A LOT. My recovery has being so slow, this is my third day, still hurts, hey I walk so funny too. One of my kids, who does not really know what going on, is making fun of me.

Finally, I hope everything will turn the way they, the doctors and others say: that’s you can’t have more children.

If I had to do it again………..I WOULD SAY NO WAY!!!

Rob

PS: I went into the doctor’s room on my own free will. I was never pressured to go for it.