About a month ago, I got a vasectomy.
My wife and I talked about it at length. With a bit of consideration, I think I can say that “at length” might include before we were even married.
After a quick web search, I find a urologist in town that performs the operation. I made an appointment. That first appointment, a surprisingly expensive appointment, went something like this:
Doctor: How many kids do you have?
Doctor: And you don’t want any?
Doctor: You sure you don’t want kids?
Doctor: Really sure?
Doctor: You don’t want kids?
Doctor: Okay, read this to prep up for the procedure. I’ll see you in a month.
I wasn’t particularly private about this decision and had quite a few people ask about it. Here’s the two reasons I have given, am giving, and will continue to give to the curious:
- We don’t want kids.
- I think there are too many people on the planet.
The first one has been met with a variety of responses. I’ve had a few that respond with a surprising enthusiasm, most a respectable neutral response to other people’s choices, and a few that seemed incredibly puzzled. That last group is the one that we don’t understand each other. I don’t understand them and they don’t understand me.
I think that there may be an actual biological urge to procreate, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt it. Something like:
I’m hungry, so I’ll eat.
I’m tired, so I’ll sleep.
There aren’t enough people around here, so I’ll make some.
I’ve never felt it, my wife hasn’t ever felt it. Maybe that’s a real thing, maybe not. I’ve asked people with kids if they felt that way, and I’ve never really got a straight answer. Maybe not’s not a real thing.
The second part is, invariably, “what if you change your mind?”. And I go on to explain that there is nothing at all special about my genetics and there are a ton of kids that could use a good home, so we’ll adopt. This is then met with a sort of congratulatory praise of my selfless generosity. Perhaps they forgot that’s a Plan B that will likely never come up, and that a big part of not wanting kids is the selfish desire to keep all my money and time for myself. Although, some will argue that making kids is a very selfish act. Your milage may vary.
My, personal, take on the situation with how many people are on this planet is the other item. I might casually use the term “over population”, but it’s not really the same meaning as what it usually is used with. David Suzuki spits a mean game about the state of the world and over population. The In A Nutshell people defang the idea that we’re about to be knee deep in each other. And the American Museum of Natural History put forward some hard facts about the number of people on this planet and how it’s trended. Who is right about all of it? Hard to say - but I’m certain that we’re not doing ourselves any favors by having such a large population.
That’s something that I know sounds impolite to say to anyone, because they’re busy existing and are likely quite happy to continue to do so. However, it has been my choice not to bring anyone new into existence and you may choose differently, and that’s fine.
The other question instead of “why” is the “how” question. This is the part of this that if you do not want to hear about my testicles, you’ll probably want to stop reading.
The doctor who performed the procedure assured me that while in the armed forces, he executed about five vasectomies every Friday, for years. This was the single most comforting bit of information in the whole process. I’ve spent over three decades keeping sharp things away from that area, so, needless to say, I was quite anxious about inviting someone to bring a blade close. I like hearing that this was about as routine as possible as it gets for this guy.
He asked that I shave the front of the scrotum. That’s difficult, uneven terrain, no easy task. He encouraged me to get ice packs and use them liberally in the days afterwards. He also strongly suggested getting tight fitting underwear and recommended the Under Armour brand. Both of his two aftercare suggestions would be spot on.
The day of, the doctor’s assistant had me take off my pants, lay back on the medical table with a pneumatic lift to raise me up to eye level for the doctor. The doctor asked, again, if I was sure I wanted to go through with it. I agreed, and he got started. The single worst parts of the procedure itself were the two needle sticks, which felt like they went directly into the testicles, but I’m not sure. I was doing every thing I could to keep my focus off of my groin area. The doctor’s assistant led an incredibly important part of the job: talking to me incessantly about anything. I can’t stress that enough, but the lady chatting me up during it was the only thing that kept me from focusing on what was happening too much and then freaking out, passing out, or vomiting.
The two needle sticks were painful, but the remainder of the procedure was only uncomfortable. About six hours later when whatever was loaded into those needles wore off, that’s when painful started. The urologist had sent me home with a prescription for 30 Percocet. I declined getting that filled, opting for a bottle of Jack Daniels, being anxious about possible addictive exposure to an opioid.
Come Monday, I went back to work, and I wish I had taken more time. Sitting down too fast, standing up too fast, going up or down stairs too fast, nearly everything made the ache in my testicles worse.
For those reading this who are owners of testicles, have you ever taken a real hard hit straight in? Do you know the dull, inescapable, aching pain that follows after the acute, blinding pain wears off? That’s what you might wind up with for a week after the procedure. Then following that, there is a vague ache that might show up from time to time for a couple weeks afterwards, and then back to business as usual.
I’d recommend it to anyone, but if you’ve got sick time, take it, use it, don’t go back to work on Monday. You’ll thank me.
Just a few days ago Baynard Woods writing for Vox had a piece published: My wife and I don’t want kids. Ever. So I decided to get a vasectomy., if you want another round of reading in regards to this topic.