You hear a lot from me on this blog. But today it’s time you hear from my other half, because it’s a topic that I think is important. Gareth recently went to have a vasectomy and there are lots of reasons why we made this decision. But when we told people about him having the snip we were met with mixed reactions from people, especially men – so I wanted to share his experience.
Firstly, what is a vasectomy?
Most vasectomies are performed by a urologist in a day theatre and you can go home straight afterwards. An injection numbs the testicles (or you get put under general anaesthetic), one or two small cuts are made in the scrotum and each of the two vas deferens tubes (which carry sperm from the testes to the penis), are pulled out and blocked by removing a small section and tying them. 20 minutes later everything is back inside and the cuts are stitched up.
Right, so now let’s hear from the man himself…over to Gareth.
So Gareth, why did you decide to have the snip?
Reason number 1: my wife told me to!
Reason number 2: I realised that my wife has been on the pill since she was 18 and that is a very long time to be in charge of birth control. I felt like as a man, it was now my turn to play my part, plus I was happy with the size of my family. I’ve heard how the pill messes with a women’s hormones and body and I thought it was time to step up.
How did it feel before, during and after the op?
As a guy you psychologically worry about anyone going near your balls with a knife! Plus the idea of all the nurses looking at your tackle and laughing (while you’re asleep) is not a situation any man wants to be in. Thirdly, you worry that you’ll be the one guy who’s balls swell to 10 times the size and you can never use them again. But my fears were all unfounded. No one laughed, nothing bad happened, and it was the same as any other minor procedure.
Was it sore or uncomfortable?
For two days afterwards it was uncomfortable and I had to shield the children from jumping all over me! I’m sure it’s the same as if you have a broken leg, everyone just wants to jump on your leg. You get given a special jockstrap to keep things in place, which helps a bit.
It’s nowhere near as painful as people say it is. You only really need a day off work but milk it for three days at least! I know why men worry about it – because it’s your balls. But other than it being an important appendage, it’s not a very big op at all (I should know, I’ve had two major back surgeries).
How long after the op until you’re no longer fertile?
The doctor said I had to go back after three months to get my swimmers tested and then possibly back again to double check. Getting my sperm tested was the unexpected bit. I had to go to a Pathcare lab and I envisaged that you’d be given a nice quiet room or something in which to produce your sample. It was not like that. I was sent off to a public loo with dirty toilet paper all over the floor. It was like something from Trainspotting!
When I gave in my sample afterwards the lovely nurse said “that was quick” and I felt very shy. It was a pure comedy moment. This was the only part of the process that took me out of my comfort zone as I’m generally a confident person, so being shy about this stuff was difficult. As much as we laughed afterwards about giving the sample, it was actually quite a test of patience and concentration! It made me think about everyone on IVF and how hectic it must be to have to do this over and over again, whenever people ask for it.
Any final thoughts on having the snip?
A quick tip for the guys having the procedure: when you’re getting your sperm tested three months later, go home and return with your sample! Having to produce it in the public toilet is not ideal (but there was traffic and I didn’t want to mission home!). Also, know that everything works just the same as it did before!
And then I suppose the whole process made me think a lot about how I’ve already made my kids (so easily!) and now I just had to check that I couldn’t make any more kids. As I said it gave me a lot of empathy for everybody who has to go through IVF, and has to do this sort of thing regularly – they are all heroes.
I actually felt very lucky that the hardest part (for me at least) related to having kids was after the fact, and not before the fact. I’ve never had to have doctors examining my private parts like women have to, all the time. I realised that I’m the lucky one in all of this.