The Vasectomy: A Conversation with My “Boys”

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About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting called PregMANcy: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

Christian Blogs for Patheos, Huffington Post, Sojourners and others.

For more information about Christian, visit www.christianpiatt.com, or find him on Twitter (www.twitter.com/christianpiatt) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/christianpiattauthor).

Comments

  1. Thanks for the laughs and for bringing back some memories. You have now earned the right to scare the begeezes out of your friends who are undergoing the knife. I particularly enjoying telling the melon fable.

  2. CajunMick says:

    Mr. Piatt:
    Enjoyed your writing very much.
    Also, they’d have to give me major tranquilizers before I’d let anyone near my daddy bits with a sharp object.

  3. Skeptical says:

    The fact that the doctor charged cash only and minimized the sometimes terrible and permanent side effects of the procedure is troubling. About 3-5% of the men who have undergone a vasectomy experience life-altering changes, such as debilitating pain, “blowouts”, infections, a reduction to erection potence and sensitivity. Many men report their once-strong orgasm is now a “dribble” and the wonderful rush of orgasm is diminished. Another 10% of men regret the decision, and suffer less serious but persistent problems that arise from their vasectomy. The odds appear to be that 1 in 6 men regret their choice to have the operation.

    The men who experience no problems question the manhood of the victims, on forums that discuss these issues, and of course the vasectomy industry (i.e. the doctors paying for the second homes or sports cars) minimize and conceal the drawbacks to this procedure that 500k American men choose annually.

    The question of males vs. female sterilization can become a battleground for thirty-something couples. Many of these women could have their tubes tied following a c-section, or could elect to undergo the Essure or equivalent procedure that has less recovery that a vasectomy, does not involve general anesthesia, and is also reversible. Essure is the true rival to vasectomy, and should be seriously considered by couples finished having children.

    • Skeptical says:

      There is also the emotional impact of male vs. female sterilization. Almost no late-thirties husbands that I know catch baby fever as they approach 40. However, countless wives become desperate to have a last (or first!) child before their fertility runs dry. If the husband was recently sterilized, that is a combustable situation. If the wife was sterilized, then she is forced to confront this issue herself, and the marriage will probably not implode. Picture the couple, where the husband has recently undergone vasectomy. The wife begins to yearn for another baby to complete their perfect family, but her husband can no longer fulfill his studly duty. Each time the couple is in a public venue, she may look about and see hundreds of men who could impregnate her, but her husband is not on the list. He will know this, and that is among the reasons that rates of vasectomy reversal (an $8-12k procedure not covered by insurance, involving risky general anesthesia, a slow and painful recovery, and prone to failure about 20-40% of the time), is skyrocketing.

      Another major enemy to vasectomy is the new wife that replaces the previous wife who coerced the man to get the procedure in the first place. She has to pay the $10k “baby fee” to get her new hubby back in the saddle.

      It’s interesting to note that vasectomy is unheard of in France (they consider it genital mutilation, along with tubal ligation), and Poland (where Nazis enforced eugenics through the procedure during WW2).

    • Soullite says:

      Wow. I’m never getting that done.

      I don’t really have a problem with other men making this choice – so long as it’s really their choice. But there are no shortage of women – and there’s a real dark undercurrent among some feminists – who think that any man who’s unwilling to make this choice is ‘immature’ and unwilling to take reproductive responsibility. You see it a lot – where it’s just taken for granted that men should be willing to get surgery because it’s just too hard for them to take a pill. It’s like all that rhetoric about ‘choice’ just goes out the window when it comes to men, and they feel no shame in pressuring their partners to get sterilized.

      • Response was actually to the author, sorry Soullite.

        • Ah, and ESSURE does not require general anesthesia. But I imagine it’s not a comfortable procedure, getting tubes up the vaginal canal, past the cervix and into the fallopians. Nothin’s easy in this world!

          • Skeptical says:

            The Essure insertion really is not comfortable. Also for something like 1 in 6 cases, one or both inserts must be repeated within the first few months as they can fail to set properly. The followup period to Esssure to confirm infertility is similar to vasectomy, according to the literature. Although the 2 procedures are fairly similar in pros and cons, from my biased perspective the ego hit is harder to swallow for the husband (diminished manhood, inability to perform at a sexual level as before). Also, the passive female system (1 egg per month) is easier to tame than the agressive male system (hundreds of millions of sperm to neutralize per day).

            One reads about the frustrated wives whose husbands renege on an earlier promise to undergo a vasectomy once the last child arrives. Threats are made, sex is withheld. Marriages sadly end.

            • Wilhelmina de Jong says:

              “Although the 2 procedures are fairly similar in pros and cons, from my biased perspective the ego hit is harder to swallow for the husband (diminished manhood, inability to perform at a sexual level as before).”
              Who says the female ego is not hit hard when a woman has a sterilization? After all women are from early age told that the sole purpose of our existence is to procreate. As a women who is sterilized or had a hysterectomy one can also be on the receiving end of kind comments like ‘now you’re not a real woman anymore’.

            • Skeptical says:

              Wilhelmina de Jong says: ”Who says the female ego is not hit hard when a woman has a sterilization? After all women are from early age told that the sole purpose of our existence is to procreate. As a women who is sterilized or had a hysterectomy one can also be on the receiving end of kind comments like ‘now you’re not a real woman anymore’.”

              Most of my friends and peers are heterosexual  30-something couples with 2 or 3 children. The wives, at this point, have accomplished their hard-wired objective of fashioning a stable home and filling it with their offspring. The husbands, however, will never achieve their biological imperative of impregnating every attractive woman who crosses their path.  Despite wishful thinking on the part of many writers on this site, this is an ingrained aspect of most men. So yes, the psychological impact is typically harsher for the male. If you subscribe to a lifestyle or worldview radically different to mainstream married man, then feel free to differ, and carry on. 

            • wellokaythen says:

              There must be something to that whole “selfish” DNA thing about men trying to reproduce as widely as possible. Yet, this is not necessarily evident in the actual sex and actual fantasies that men have. Consider all the porn scenarios and all the fantasies men have about women, and notice how many of those scenarios simply cannot result in pregnancy. (Faces, mouths, chests, and anuses are just not where pregnancy happens.) If men are just engines of reproduction, we would have absolutely no interest in anything except vaginal intercourse. Men may be “driven to spread their seed,” but it’s very often not on fertile ground. If it’s a biological imperative, the orders are pretty garbled.

      • Wilhelmina de Jong says:

        “You see it a lot – where it’s just taken for granted that men should be willing to get surgery because it’s just too hard for them to take a pill. It’s like all that rhetoric about ‘choice’ just goes out the window when it comes to men, and they feel no shame in pressuring their partners to get sterilized.”

        Well, there are also plenty of men who have no shame in pressuring their wives or girl-friends into taking the pill, inserting an IUD or whatever without minding that the health and well-being of their partner will be affected.
        There are quite a number of women for whom it’s not “just too hard to take the pill” but they do experience the full range of side effects – and those are not funny. I’m sometimes flabbergasted at how little some men care about their partners, that they accept that their partner is absolutely miserable so that they can have sex without a condom and in general don’t have to worry about contraception.
        It takes two to tango and there is really nothing more sexy than a man taking responsibility instead of just asking “Aren’t you on the pill?”.

    • Skeptical,
      Can you offer any citations or sources for the statistics you’re quoting? As a man considering this procedure, I appreciate all the information I can get. Thanks.

  4. Oh god, why? This is permanent! Permanent. I do not understand for the life of me any form of permanent contraception, be it male or female. Isn’t that just tempting fate? Condoms are fine, and while IUD’s can be slightly unpleasant to put in they have next to no side-effects unless the woman in question has very heavy periods. Most importantly, they are freakin reversible, being pretty easy to remove.

    I understand they make mid-life divorces a much less attractive proposition, but I don’t think that’s really worth it, and if that’s the reason why you’re getting one, there’s probably something wrong there.

  5. I had one after our second and definitely last child turned one. I was 42 at the time and I can assure you there was no way we were having a third (I’m told old for more of that s**t). I have had none of the problems that Skeptical alluded to and frankly it was the best thing I ever did. I am aware of quite a few men who have had the procedure and none appear to regret it either.

    Unlike Christian, I went in for a general anaesthetic so had none of the pain problems that he had.

    While I get the baby fever scenario, I imagine if its a joint decision then there is less chance of that being a problem. certainly my partner would have loved a another one because she wanted a girl and we had two boys but we both agreed that it was not practical. (she was in her 30s at the time).

  6. Wilhelmina de Jong says:

    I applaud any man who takes responsibility in his relationship for the contraceptive issue, instead of coercing his wife into hormonal contraception, or getting an IUD so he can have a free ride. It boggles my mind that a vasectomy is not a standard medical procedure offered by urologists. This is something that should be available in all bigger hospitals.
    Complications, like those mentioned by Sceptical, arise when a surgeon has little experience or is not trained properly to perform the procedure. If more men requested the procedure, it would also contribute to more doctors becoming competent at performing safe vasectomies.
    Any man who uses the risks of a vasectomy as a counter argument I’d advise to start reading up and educate himself about the numerous risks and complications that can arise from all the kinds of contraception women use.
    An interesting sociological aspect that arises from this issue is one of male identity. For many men, their male identity is questioned when they are not fertile any more and the crown jewels are sacrosanct. With more women demanding that their partner takes responsibility for contraception as well, there’s some good food for thought about what it means to be a man.

    • I just cannot how understand how permanent sterilization makes any sense for any man or woman under the age of 45/55. Let’s say your partner dies tomorrow in a car smash, and while you are devastated you eventually remarry after a couple of years. And your new partner would like a child. Oops. Or you get divorced after some brutally shocking, unexpected revelation (more likely). I don’t think I’d like to be on the 40/30-somethings dating market while permanently sterilized. That seems kind of rough.

      Hormonal contraception can often have some really ugly side-effects, but this much rarer in the case of IUDs. But if that’s a no-go, what on earth is wrong with good old condoms? I love the things. Seriously, I get some guys don’t like them, but surely that’s better than a vasectomy…

    • Amen Wilhelmina.

      I’m going to have permanent health problems from my surgical births, and to have more surgery would make it worse.There are more side effects for a woman having her tubes tied than a man.It’s also common for women who’ve had heavy bleeding with their periods, to find it becomes much worse to the point of then needing a hysterectomy.

      It should be a private decision between the couple and not a public debate really.But kudos to any man who’ll support his wife and share responsibility (and the pain)

    • I agree with Wilhelmina. The pill and other female contraceptive equipment messes up your hormones and possibly your body for a long time and I do find it selfish that men say they wouldn’t think of taking the male pill (it is currently being developed) and whine about wearing a condom when women have to endure an imbalance of hormones that affects their health in some ways just because men are too lazy. If you don’t want to get a vasectomy, if you don’t want to take the male version of the pill, stock up on condoms and never ever whinge about wearing one because you have not taken responsibility for your fertility and you have willingly closed off all the other options to you. When a woman has a hysterectomy or sterilization, even then her hormones will be messed up. There is no escaping messing up your hormones as a woman and that’s something unpleasant to endure. Because of the biology, men don’t have the same problem. Yes, when I am done with the pill and when he is done with condoms and we are done having children, why should I be flamed for preferring that he have a vasectomy? It will affect him hormonally less than if I have it done, for one reason. That’s a good enough reason considering what women have to endure on that count alone. However I have heard that some women boast about having their husband ‘fixed’ which is a horrible reaction even though I can understand that they are pleased that they don’t have to mess around with their hormones anymore so I can understand men’s apprehension over it but let’s be practical here, a vasectomy is a good idea and a responsible man should be able to consider it logically as an option, even if he is scared

  7. Wilhelmina de Jong says:

    “I don’t think I’d like to be on the 40/30-somethings dating market while permanently sterilized. That seems kind of rough.”
    Try to be in the mid-30 dating market as a female (or male, I don’t think it matters much) and not wanting to have any children. That comes close to being sterilized. The only thing is that if you are not sterilized potential partners (male & female) somehow think they can still reverse your decision.

    “But if that’s a no-go, what on earth is wrong with good old condoms?”
    That is something I wonder about, too.

    • Skeptical says:

      Another point in favor of female sterilization (or at least IUD), is that women become steadily more infertile leading up to about 38-40. A woman who elects to be sterilized only forfeits a couple of years of her reproductive power. Her same-aged husband, however, forgoes decades of that ability. In the event of a breakup or death of a spouse, it is asking much more of the husband to take the plunge.

      It is sickening to read female blogs that chronicle the author’s husband choosing a vasectomy, only to read the excitement these women display, boasting how he will soon be ‘cut’ and ‘fixed’.  During extensive research on the matter, I read dozens of gleeful accounts like this. I shared several with my wife and asked why she thinks it’s so common.  By contrast men don’t post essays relishing their wives’ upcoming c-section or tubal ligation. She hypothesized that maybe those women want their husbands to pay a physical price for their sexual happiness. In my opinion, having one’s testicles flayed and burned seems an unusual way to improve sexual well being. 

  8. Two funny things happened when I had my, eh, “procedure.” I was laying there on the table with the gown open and everything displayed for all to see, and the nurses started wiping the area down. The doc said, “We’re just creating a sterile area.” I said, “Isn’t that the whole point of this?” Crickets.

    Then there was a song on the radio, that old 80s ballad, “I just died in your arms tonight.” OK, weird. But they were talking amongst themselves trying to figure out who was singing the song. It was just as the doc was going to start cutting, and I said, “It’s the Cutting Crew. Appropriate.” Again, crickets.

    I’m in my early 40s but am at a stage of life (we only have one child, a teenager) that I wouldn’t want to go back to the beginning, diapers, preschools and all that.

    I have had absolutely no problems. I’ll say the most painful uncomfortable part was the hair growing back.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Tough crowd, man.

      Question is, do you want people performing your vasectomy to have a wonderful sense of humor, or no sense of humor? Having no sense of humor might be better….. : – )

  9. wellokaythen says:

    The cost of the procedure is probably influenced by market forces, for example, the cost of the vasectomy relative to the cost of an alternative, like HAVING A KID. Compare the $900 with the costs of having another child, and the choice should be pretty easy. The urologist has you over a barrel, in a way. Anything they charge, anything less than the hundreds of thousands of dollars it takes to raise a kid to age 18, is a bargain….

  10. wellokaythen says:

    Just read it again.
    Fifteen ejaculations, eh?
    Her: “What are you doing in there with the door locked?”
    Him: “Nothing dear, just following the doctor’s orders.”

  11. wellokaythen says:

    I think any such procedure should be primarily because of that person’s individual goals in life. You shouldn’t have any such procedure done just to please someone else. If you do, then you have to admit to yourself that it’s still your choice, and you have to admit you’re ultimately doing it for your own reasons anyway. (For example, to improve your sex life, to make your marriage more bearable for you, etc.) You have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

    I would get one mostly for my own reasons. I don’t want to have children, either with my wife or with anyone else. If my wife left me, I wouldn’t want to have children any less than I do now or any more than I do now. It would be me deciding whether I want to be a biological father in the future. Remember, your fertility exists or doesn’t exist independently of what your relationship status is. Ultimately you’ll take your vasectomy with you wherever you go.

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