Why Tell My Vasectomy Story
When other men find out that I’ve had a vasectomy, I usually get one or a combination of these three reactions:
- A sharp intake of breath through tightly pursed lips and a wincing of the eyes.
- A nod of recognition and a tale of how they returned to heavy labouring work within 5 minutes of the operation.
- A pause, then an enquiry as to what comes out when I ejaculate.
In order to avoid having to repeat myself yet again, I thought I’d write a blog post about it and then just send a link to all future curiosity. At least it might boost my reading stats.
Vasectomy – The Beginning
Deciding to have a vasectomy was easy. I never wanted kids, I just wasn’t parent material. I watched how natural other men were around children, both theirs and others, and I didn’t get it. It was alien to me. While they were rolling around in the dirt talking in a strange language that children seemed to respond to, I was giving 5 year olds a firm hand shake and asking them what their views on the latest news story were. I point blank refused to hold someone else’s baby, and desperately tried not to be left in a room with a child with as much eagerness as one might have if it were suggested you’re getting locked in a room with a starved tiger.
Me and Vikki found ourselves, through circumstance I won’t bore you with right now, living in an ex-pat sanctuary called Santa Pola – just south of Alicante, Spain. Me and Vikki were working all the hours of the day just to make ends meet and still having to rely on my parents to survive. It turns out living in a retirement hot spot, just south of one of the most expensive parts of Spain, was not a great way to start out in a foreign country. We were struggling. Then Vikki said she was pregnant. We could barely look after ourselves let alone a child, so we made the exceptionally difficult decision to have a termination. This is the first time I’ve admitted it publicly, and I’m not going to dwell on it, but I still shed a tear when I’m saying it. The guilt, the pain, it’s just as fresh for me today as it was when we went through the process some 10 years ago.
We relocated back to the UK because we couldn’t cope in Spain any longer, and as rotten luck would have it, it appeared that there was something of a baby boom amongst Vikki’s friends and the female members of our extended families. Each one was like a deliberate poke in the eye with a rusty infected blade by fate. Every time someone announced a pregnancy we had to put our own feelings to one side and allow ourselves to be happy for them, every time I watched Vikki hold a baby and hand them back in tears I blamed myself. Had I forced Vikki into it? Had we made the right choice? What had I done? So we decided to have a baby. But only one. One beautiful child that was ours, that we could love and spoil and (as perversely as it sounds) make amends for past mistakes.
At the back of my mind though, I was filled with doubt about what kind of dad I would be. A stiff, rigid, old man, that was all matter of fact and grown up, rather than the fun dad who was loved by their kids.
Applying For A Vasectomy
My first attempt at applying for a vasectomy was when Olivia was just born. I visited the GP thinking it was going to be a straight forward meeting. Can I have the chop please, do you have kids, are you sure, of course you can. Five minutes tops. It wasn’t to be. The doctor asked me about 10 minutes worth of probing questions and then refused my application on the NHS. I couldn’t believe it. His reasoning was that Olivia was too young, we needed more time to assess whether we wanted to have more children or not. Olivia would almost certainly need a sibling and we weren’t thinking rationally. I was shocked, who did he think he was telling me that me and Vikki didn’t know our own minds! But regardless of how I felt, I hadn’t had the referral so I had to simply accept it.
We waited just over two years until my second application. It was guaranteed to be a successful application this time. How wrong I was. A different doctor this time, she asked similar questions to the first but decided that a vasectomy wouldn’t be right for us at this time because Vikki was too young. She suggested that Vikki may need more time to decide whether her biological clock needed to be reset or not and it was too early to stop it completely. I was fuming. How dare she, and how dare the NHS refuse me yet again on an arbitrary basis of subjective ethics.
Shortly after my second rejection, we became pregnant with George. It’s fair to say we were devastated. More so Vikki than me, primarily because she was going through a period of mental health issues including anxiety, agoraphobia, and depression, so she immediately questioned what the stress of another pregnancy would do to her, but having a termination in the past we were adamant that we wouldn’t have another and pushed ahead with the pregnancy. Whilst Vikki was pregnant, I went back to the doctor to apply for a third time for a vasectomy. As callous as it sounds, Vikki being pregnant with a child neither of us wanted, but two failed vasectomy applications could have prevented, I was sure that this application would be successful. It wasn’t.
The doctor said that she would never be able to approve an application for a vasectomy while Vikki was pregnant. She was convinced that if something happened during the pregnancy, we would want to try for another child. Regardless of how much I protested, she simply refused time and time again.
After George was born, and having learned from my first application, we decided to wait until George had turned one before applying for a fourth time. As it happens I couldn’t wait that long, and booked an appointment when George was about nine or 10 months. I couldn’t believe it, but this doctor was going to refuse my application again because George was still in a “danger zone” as he called it, of infant death syndrome. He couldn’t possibly approve an application until after George had survived his first three years. I refused to leave his office. My appointment was supposed to be 5 minutes but I left after two hours. No not after a peaceful police kidnapping negotiation, but with a referral for a vasectomy. I genuinely couldn’t believe how hard the application process had been for me, particularly when I heard of other people getting referred on their first time with only one child under the age of three. I must have just been unlucky enough to have had the most ethically robust doctors in the NHS every time. (other people have told me it was fate to allow George to be born, but I don’t buy it)
The Vasectomy Procedure
I was referred to the Marie Stopes clinic in Maidstone for a procedure called a no scalpel vasectomy. This is where they essentially burn a small hole in each of the ball sacks – after a local anaesthetic of course – and burn through and seal the vas deferens. There is no need for stitches and the recovery time is much faster because it’s less intrusive.
The reality was very different for me. Firstly I was put in a bad mood because there was a 21 year old who had no kids in the recovery room because he had paid for the procedure rather than go through the NHS referral process. If only I had thought of that!
local anaesthetic was injected into both scrota but it only took effect on one. So for a while I didn’t feel the entry hole being made, and I didn’t feel the doctor pull out the vas deferens tube to burn through and cauterise it, then place it back in again. On the second I felt everything. As he burned through the scrotum, I flinched thinking that’s worse than the last one, then when he pinched and pulled on my tubes it was like he was pulling my entire stomach entrails out. The pain was horrific and I lurched in agony. The doctor simply asked if “something was up” and I calmly replied yes. He gave me a second injection and even though I’m sure it worked, my subconscious had convinced me the pain was still fresh.
I went into the recovery lounge, waited the prescribed amount of time, then Vikki gave me a lift home. I took a week off work, and I needed it. When I returned to work I was ridiculed by the old and bold who had had their vasectomies in their lunch break and returned to work just in time to complete a rigorous physical training session (usually involving an obstacle course) and nothing bad happened to them. I’m pretty sure they’re just liars!
The Second Vasectomy Procedure
Needless to say the first vasectomy didn’t work. Not that Marie Stopes will admit that. I had to provide around 10 samples, once a month, and they still didn’t admit it had failed. They kept saying that I was just getting rid of lingering sperm that was still around since the snip. Bollocks. I cut all communication with them and went to my doctor in Germany. I asked for a vasectomy, he said of course. Good old efficient, ethics deficient Germans.
For this procedure, the doctor asked me if I would like a local or general anaesthetic. Knock me out please doc. He then asked if I would like the scalpel free or the cut and tie method. Cut me up good please doc, as long as I’m asleep do what you need to do.
So they put me to sleep. They cut me. They tied me. I woke up the next day sterile. I did have a bad reaction to the general and vomited all the way home in the car, but I was happy because after long last I had finally had my vasectomy. Three confirmed negative samples reassured me that it had worked. Being able to feel the knots in my tubes by touching them from the outside reassured me further that they had tied me up good. The only side effect that I have is that when I haven’t ejaculated for a while my scrotum gets incredibly itchy. Red raw itchy. I’ve had doctors confirm it isn’t an STI or fungal infection before you ask; there’s even an online forum for blokes with a similar side effect.
Despite all this, I still think that having the vasectomy was definitely worth every step and stage in this process. I’m deeply grateful that the doctors rejected my application in order to allow George to be born, but then again if it had been approved he’d have never been born and I’d have have never known.
What Comes Out After A Vasectomy
To answer the question that far too many men ask, giving a shameful indictment of biology lessons in the 90s, about a tablespoon of semen comes out when I ejaculate, there’s just no sperm in it. Seminal fluid (semen) is actually produced in a variety of different locations including the testes (1-5%), prostate gland (25-30%), seminal vesicle (65-70%), and the bulbourethral glands (less than 1%). It is designed to help propel and feed the sperm on their journey to try and find an egg to fertilise. If we were to use an analogy comparing the male reproductive system to a river system, the testicles would be the headwaters, the epididymus would be a small holding pond for the sperm, the seminal vesicles would be the first tributary stream, the prostate gland would be the second tributary stream, the bulbourethral glands would be the final tributary stream, and the tip of the penis would be the outflow. Strange analogy, but it works.
Have you had a vasectomy? Has your fella? Was it an easier process than mine? Are you thinking about having a vasectomy? Have I just put you off? Let me know, I’d love to hear your vasectomy story.