Yes, the word alone makes you cringe. But it’s way less cringe-worthy than a hysterectomy.
The first time I ever felt pain directly to my groin was getting hit by a baseball. I was about eleven. I don’t know if it’s learned behavior or something innate within but boys are aware of this zone of vulnerability at an early age. Getting hit in the balls left enough of an impression that I spent the rest of my life flinching when objects of any kind got near the area. So the thought of a scalpel was just preposterous.
To be fair, I had no idea what a vasectomy actually entailed. All I knew was it involved your penis being cut. Men, for all intents and purposes, think of it as a snip-snip. So for the duration of my adult life, I’ve been vehemently against the snip-snip. I thought that since there are many options for birth control, it should be my wife’s job to prevent future pregnancies.
A night on Twitter opened my eyes.
Women of all ages shared their horrific experiences, which ranged from prolonged bleeding to cysts to a stroke. I was astounded. This transparent and honest conversation was a rare opportunity for men to learn about the intricacies of a woman’s reproductive system. Having a child is a beautiful process. But for many women, not having a child becomes a daily source of torment.
I changed my mind about getting a vasectomy because I want to save my wife’s life.
Vasectomies are medical procedures that come with a unique set of questions from men. However, they are far easier to perform. I had to get over my apprehension in order to understand why a vasectomy makes sense.
At my age, I’ve accepted that my ideal plans for having children are out the window. For starters, I’m not one of those men who wants a wife that was in elementary school when I was doing college applications. Being in her mid-late thirties means that she won’t want a brood of curly-haired, pudgy-faced babies. Having one would satisfy me. Two would be a blessing. Anything after that and I’m putting my wife’s livelihood on the line. While women are starting families and having babies later in life, that doesn’t guarantee a problem-free pregnancy. The excitement of an “uh-oh” pregnancy being hampered by the impending doom of re-introducing birth control into her body or going under for surgery isn’t worth it to me in the long run.
After thoroughly reading the thread of shared experiences with various forms of birth control, I decided to educate myself about the risks involved with having a vasectomy. Surprisingly, there weren’t any that raised any alarms for me. I mean, I’ve survived several bouts of kidney stones. This didn’t sound that bad. I also considered the mental toll that birth control can take on a woman. The mood swings and possibility of depression isn’t over-stated. It’s not all in her head, guys! I thought hard about how important my symbol of manhood was to me. And the conclusion I arrived at is the ability to procreate didn’t make me more of a man. What made me more of a man was considering the seriousness of my wife’s health, both physical and mental.
Empathy will undoubtedly put you in a better place to respect the sacrifices women make. There’s a hilarious Youtube of men being hooked up to machine that simulates PMS pain. The first time I saw it, I laughed and grimaced simultaneously. Men can detach themselves from cramps, bloating, and weight gain caused by manual birth control. However, having a vasectomy is the only procedure that makes that pain accessible and real. In fact, the literal preparation for is it comparable. You’re naked from the waist down. Your genitals are crudely handled by a specialized doctor. You avoid eye contact at all costs. Surgical contraception is mostly irreversible. If there is a slim chance that you change your mind, it’s not going to be easy. It’s the finality that a piece of you is gone forever. You are now in a position to show compassion for all the stress, trauma, and general discomfort your wife has experienced in her life. You can see her.
Having a vasectomy is still a few years away from me. I can’t help but wonder, though, if there will be a faint yearning when it actually happens. Will walking past Baby Gap remind me of the ghosts of impossible babies? Or will I be one of the lucky guys who has no regrets? For now, I’ve pushed all of those concerns to the back of my mind. What I do recognize is that women endure so much to help continue civilization. Getting a vasectomy is the ultimate act of “manning up.” The least I can do as a man is sacrifice a week of scrotal pain for a lifetime of my wife feeling like herself.
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