My Boring, Slightly Uncomfortable, Absolutely Necessary Vasectomy

What’s it like getting the maligned and misunderstood procedure? Let me walk you through mine.

February 7, 2024 6:15 am
A poster of Uncle's Sam classic "I Want You" point, but it says "to get a vasectomy" at the bottom. Today, our writer shares his own story about what it's like to get a vasectomy.
I wanted to get a vasectomy the second we were done having kids. Here's what it was like.
Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images

You should absolutely get a vasectomy. Unless you want a kid. Or another kid. But other than that, you should absolutely get a vasectomy.

If you’re not exactly sure what a vasectomy entails, it’s a very simple procedure that cuts or seals the tubes that carry sperm. It should — as long as you wait at least three months — prevent pregnancy. It is reversible, and you probably already knew that because of that one episode of The Office. But do not get one if you’re planning on reversing it. That Office episode does a good job explaining why. 

I was ready for my vasectomy. I was more than ready. Once my second kid arrived, I wanted to get it done ASAP. I wanted to get it done while my wife was giving birth. That’s not possible for multiple reasons, and it’s just not a good idea. But I did ask multiple doctors during childbirth if, hypothetically, it was doable. It’s not. You need a consultation and all that boring stuff.

Another reason you shouldn’t attempt to schedule a vasectomy to line up with the birth of your child is, after the procedure, you’re not supposed to lift anything over 15 pounds for a week. Sure, the baby weighed less than that, but the four-year-old at home — they were a bit heavier. In other words, timing is everything. It’s actually the worst part of the entire ordeal. 

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The Beforehand

Cue Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Waiting.” It took five months from initially reaching out for a consultation until my procedure. It would have only been four months if I was able to make the first surgery appointment (one kid got hand, foot and mouth disease, so it was a necessary pushback), but that’s still quite a long time for something that can be done in under an hour. 

In your consultation you will be asked multiple times if you want a vasectomy. So, do you want a vasectomy? Do you want a kid? Or another kid? If not, get the vasectomy. It’s that simple. Men of a certain age should know whether or not they want the ability to procreate. If you’re on the fence, stay on the fence. Vasectomies are optional. 

If you’re concerned about the effectiveness of vasectomies, well, they’re 99% effective. That’s on par with an IUD, but unlike an IUD, vasectomies are one and done. IUDs can last up to 12 years, so your partner may need more than one in her lifetime and there are occasionally some pretty bad side effects. Not so with vasectomies. Vasectomies are also more effective than condoms. Even when used 100% correctly, condoms are only 98% effective.

There’s also the rhythm method. I went to a Catholic high school and was taught the rhythm method in health class. When the teacher told us he used it, we asked how many kids he had. He said six. We all laughed and laughed and laughed and that was the most valuable lesson I ever learned about sex in a Catholic school. So I got a vasectomy. 

The Vasectomy

The day of your surgery — it feels more like a procedure than surgery, if that’s any consolation — is a lot of answering questions and waiting. I’m lucky, I have no preexisting conditions and don’t take any prescribed medications, so my time with the nurses was mostly telling them the last time I ate (8 p.m. the previous night because you’re not supposed to eat anything the day of the surgery). I changed out of my street clothes (wear the kind of boxer briefs you work out in, compression will be your friend), attempted to put on my gown and was rolled into the operating theater. 

You’re allowed to listen to whatever you want on headphones during the surgery, but you’re going to be asked a few questions and given some notices about what exactly is happening. So in theory, you’re able to drown out everything with the ambient music of your choosing. But it’s not exactly feasible.

For the duration that I was in the operation, I heard muffled reggaeton from the stereo in the operating room (it sounded awful, not the music but the quality, but maybe a subpar radio isn’t a bad idea when there are medical professionals doing professional things?) while AirPods played nothing in my ears. Yes, I could have used Transparency mode and listened to whatever I wanted while interacting, but what music or book or podcast did I really want to forever associate with a vasectomy? A buddy of mine let his doctor choose the music. The doctor chose a Red Hot Chili Peppers mix. Now whenever my friend hears Anthony Kiedis singing about his favorite state in the union, he’s taken back to his procedure. 

Time to get down to business. I opted for local anesthetic. Most everyone does. Once numbed, my doctor told me what he was doing while he was doing it. Some literature will say that the procedure is painless. It’s not, but it’s far from horrible or even that bad. You will feel a small amount of tugging and pulling. If the anesthetic works, and I was asked multiple times if it was working, it’s less painful than most any dental procedure. It’s not fun, but it’s easier to lay through a vasectomy than sit through a root canal.

Once rolled out of the operating theater I was checked on by another nurse to make sure the very small stitches were A-OK. After that was confirmed, I put on my street clothes and slowly, very slowly, walked to the waiting area of the hospital. 

I arrived at the hospital at 10 a.m. My vasectomy was at 12:30 p.m. I was out of the hospital by 1:30 p.m. I could have been out as early as 1:15 p.m., but my ride-share wasn’t expecting me to be ready so soon, and had to get there unexpectedly early. All of the literature and staff will tell you you’re not allowed to take an Uber or Lyft home, it needs to be with someone you know (walking and biking are not an option). So keep that in mind if your partner has, you know, a job. 

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The Aftermath

There’s no special medicine. Other than extra-strength Tylenol and ibuprofen, you’re not going to be prescribed anything. If the procedure goes as planned, though, you shouldn’t need anything more than Tylenol and ibuprofen. 

You’ll be instructed to use ice packs. Use those ice packs! They help quite a bit the first 48 hours after surgery. Most pain will be gone after those two days. For the next five days I just moved a bit slower and always sat with a pillow on my lap (mostly for protection) whenever my kids were around. 

Once again, the worst part about getting a vasectomy is the waiting. A close second to waiting for the actual procedure is waiting to be able to resume normal activities. Most everything will be healed quite quickly. But if you’re an avid basketball player, cyclist, runner, weightlifter or participant in any other activity that requires extensive cardio and lifting, you’re going to have to just wait it out for a few weeks. It really sucks to stop exercising the way you want, but if you’re coupled with someone who has actually given birth, do not complain about this. Do not. It’s nothing compared to actual childbirth. You can take a seat for a month without saying anything. 

The day-to-day lifting needs to be limited, which means you’re not supposed to be carrying your child or children around for a few days if they’re over 15 pounds. Within a week you should be back to normal. My back absolutely killed me the day after I finally started carrying my kid around again, but that had more to do with not using a set of muscles for seven days than the vasectomy. 

The procedure is far from cheap, but not so expensive that it’s disqualifying. With insurance, my out of pocket total came out around $2,800. If I was able to get it done when it was originally scheduled, at the end of 2023, my out of pocket cost would have been $0. But getting a procedure done extremely early in the year means our family’s out of pocket payments will, in theory, be covered earlier in the year. In other words, it’s a wash as long as someone on our plan needs a lot of doctor’s visits…and two kids under the age of five tend to need a lot of doctor’s visits.  

Planned Parenthood does offer vasectomies and they cost a whopping $60 if you’re paying out of pocket. If you’re able to secure an appointment with them, do it. After three months of striking out on obtaining a consultation, appointment and procedure with Planned Parenthood, I gave up and went the more typical route. Writing this and seeing the price difference, I really regret not being more proactive with securing a Planned Parenthood vasectomy. 

Oh yeah, the sex part. It’s the same. It literally does not feel any different. At all. You still have all of your working parts. You just don’t have to worry about more kids.

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