Guide to modern vasectomy
People...I can’t get anyone pregnant. This is a fact that provides me with a great deal of peace for at least three weeks of the month. But, sadly, unless I take measures into my own hands, I’m still able to become the host to a tiny little foetal parasite. Which is why, in my mind, the greatest gift that any fertile penis owner can give to their fertile, vagina owning companion is choosing to have a vasectomy.
At this point I’ve probably just lost any penis owning readers that were still hanging around. You see the fascinating thing about vasectomies is that they bring up some very curious ideas around masculinity. Most people struggle to detach their concepts of sterilisation from concepts of virility. The idea of no longer being able to get someone pregnant conjures images of impotence, of cuckolding and a litany of other sad, pathetic man tropes.
All of which is utter and complete bullshit. So today I thought we could explore some of the issues surrounding vasectomies that deserve to be discussed a whole lot more.
WHAT IS A VASECTOMY?
Let’s address what a vasectomy ISN’T first. A vasectomy is not castration. There seems to be some kind of whispered fear that having a vasectomy might involve removing your testicles, or your dick, or both. A vasectomy is not the same as getting neutered.
A vasectomy is not going to make you a eunuch, so you can forget your dreams of becoming some kind of castrato idol of the opera circuit.
A vasectomy is a procedure that stops your sperm from getting into your semen. For those of you who thought sperm and semen were the same thing, you get a slap. That’s bad penis ownership, you should know better. Semen is the fun white stuff your dick vomits out when you orgasm. If you’re currently fertile, it means your semen is full of sperm. The semen is kind of like a shark cage for your sperm, helping the little swimmers get where they’re going without dying horribly.
Sperm are the little white guys with the funny tails that swim around trying to find their way to an egg (occasionally getting really confused when they realise they’re inside a mouth).
THE POLITICS OF VASECTOMY
Is benching your swimmers really a political move? You’d better fucking believe it is.
Having a vasectomy is probably one of the most feminist actions a heterosexual man can participate in. Not following? Let me illustrate.
Hormonal pills, patches, tubal ligation, tubal occlusion, shots, rings, implants, Intrauterine Device, Intrauterine System, diaphragms, cervical caps, spermicides, and sponges.
Notice anything? Yeah, those are all female-focused methods of contraception. And most of them are either not very effective or have some fucking serious side effects, cos you know they contain hormones that make us bloated, grumpy, greasy, or sore (at which point we’ll then become the butt of a heap of jokes about how moody and unstable women are).
You know what dudes have?
Before the pill, contraception was seen as a man’s domain, because it involved male action. It was up to the dude with the dick to either cover it or remove it before he climaxed. Like so many things, women didn’t have a say in how many children they had, what the spacing between them was, or pretty much anything else. The man was the head of the household and therefore he would decide whether or not there would be more children. But when the contraceptive pill was created and developers realised that men wouldn’t tolerate the side effects the focus moved to women. Being pregnant is not ideal, especially not when it’s the 8th time in a row, so women happily volunteered for bloating, acne, cramps, spotting, moodiness, aching breasts and worse just for the freedom of not being knocked up against their will.
Once the pill was on the market, everything changed. For 50 years no one even looked into the possibility of male contraceptives. Literally half a century of “nah, women got this”.
Because you know, it’s our body that can get pregnant so obviously it’s our responsibility (until we need an abortion in which case our right to make decisions about our body apparently goes right the fuck out the window).
Despite the fact that, to my knowledge, women can’t get themselves pregnant, we are always the ones that take the blame. We hear a lot about tarts, sluts and whores who ‘get themselves knocked up’ but very little about those [insert non-existent word for male slut] who fathered these pregnancies.
More than half of all abortions are performed on women who were on contraception at the time. But when it fails, the judgement is on the women who were deemed ‘too stupid’ or ‘too lazy’ to use it properly. Oh, and women are then the ones who pay for those abortions.
Again, women do not get themselves pregnant, but they are almost exclusively responsible for the management of birth control, abortion, and/or any subsequent offspring.
To put it more eloquently (and with less ‘fucks’), Dr Lisa Campo-Edelstein in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics wrote about the situation women are placed in through contraceptive imbalance;
“Beyond the health-related and financial considerations, there are also non-trivial inconveniences and burdens associated with contraceptive use: dedicating time and energy to contraception care (e.g., doctor visits), acquiring the knowledge about contraception and reproduction needed to effectively prevent pregnancy (e.g. knowing which medications can interfere with the effectiveness of contraception), dealing with the medicalization of one’s reproductive health, undergoing invasive procedures by physicians (e.g., pelvic exam) and by contraceptives (e.g., IUDs, Norplant), feeling stress and anxiety about the possibility of unintended pregnancy, and facing the social repercussions of contraceptive decisions and the possible moral reproach for contraceptive failures.”
Don’t expect the woman in your relationship to be on hormones for the rest of her fertile life (and then possibly again during menopause). Don’t ask her to have major surgery. Don’t ask her to resort to less than perfect options that could lead to her needing an abortion. Suck it up and be an ally.
If you want to be an awesome feminist ally to your female partner, shoulder the fucking burden of birth control. Take one for the team and neutralize your soldiers. One 15 minute procedure for you, is decades of doctors appointments, side effects, invasive implements and intellectual labour for her.
FIGHT SEXIST MALE STEREOTYPES
But even if you hate women, and don’t want to help them out in any way, getting a vasectomy is still a great way of tackling the sexism directed at men through the imbalance of contraceptive options.
There are so many sexist assumptions that underlie the lack of male contraception options. Some assume that it’s because men are super shit at looking after their health in the first place, so this would obviously extend to their ability to manage something as important as taking birth control. Anyone who has ever tried to get a man to go and see their doctor is familiar with this concept.
Others contend that men have this misguided attitude that fertility is tied to masculinity and assume that you can’t be a man if you can’t get anyone pregnant.
However most of the arguments boil down to “men are stupid and unreliable.” It’s a trope we’ve seen played out in a million different ways across tv shows, movies, books and advertising. Wife is resourceful, intuitive, reliable (and boring). Husband is hilarious man-child who can’t take responsibility for his actions and keeps fucking shit up, but remains lovable.
Again, Dr Camp-Edelstein sums it up beautifully:
“Many mainstream news articles assert…that most women’s response to male contraceptives would be something like, ‘Are you kidding? I can’t even trust him to take out the garbage!’ In contrast, academic studies show that women in committed relationships would trust their male partners to use new contraceptives. Furthermore, while they may not be a representative sample, it seems safe to assume that women who have agreed to join clinical trials for male contraceptives, knowing it meant they could not use any other forms of contraception, trusted their partner to use the new contraceptives.”
By electing to have a vasectomy you’re making the choice to say “fuck you” to all the bullshit gendering and stereotyping. You’re lifting the burden from your female sexual partners and also defying conventional opinion against men.
So, to reiterate, fuck yeah a vasectomy is a political act. It’s an act of fucking rebellion.
ALTERNATIVES TO A VASECTOMY
Okay, so let’s say you’ve been thinking about getting the snip but one of your mates is like “Broseph, why don’t you just use condoms?”
At this point, you lay some knowledge on your buddy by point out that condoms, when used typically (ie the way we all actually use them) they’re only 82% effective. Vasectomy? That shit is literally over 99% guaranteed.
Not to mention they actually end up more expensive over the course of your lifetime than a vasectomy. Of course condoms are still super important if you’ve got multiple partners, cos nothing protects against STIs like a good old love glove.
So tubal ligation is the ‘her’s’ version of a vasectomy. It’s considered major surgery, so the patient is put under general anaesthetic before they make an incision in her abdominal wall. Then they fish around, find the fallopian tubes and close them. I say close them, because there’s a whole heap of ways they can do that; cut and tied, clamped, cauterised, or maybe kept whole but sealed with a ring or a band or a clip.
Once it’s all over there’s a period of recovery in the hospital and then the fun symptoms start. Because it’s performed under a general you’ve got all the shit like shoulder pain, bloating, sore throat and so on. But there’s also vaginal bleeding, discharge, nausea, vomiting, infections, bruising, bleeding and issues with bladder or bowel function. Oh, and a 1 in 200 chance of developing an ectopic pregnancy in the future. And all of that is if nothing goes wrong from the surgery itself, because anything involving a scalpel and a general increases the risks of complications by a pretty huge factor.
There used to be an alternative to tubal ligation called tubal occlusion, and it involved putting a tiny coil in the fallopian tubes and letting the body grow scar tissue around it, creating a blockage. Turns out that was super fucked up and ruined thousands of women’s lives, so now it’s not available in Australia (but hey, that doesn’t stop the company from screwing over our American sisters).
Roy Jacobstein from IntraHealth International gives some additional insight into tubal ligation and its position as an alternative to vasectomy;
“[W]hile 220 million women globally rely on female sterilization — it’s the world’s most widely used contraceptive method — fewer than 28 million men use vasectomy.” To deal with this discrepancy, I believe we need to better understand the love and protection granted to the penis and testicles—but not bestowed on the vagina, uterus, or ovaries (let alone the clitoris)—and address the complexity behind the fear of vasectomy.”
THE VASECTOMY PROCEDURE
Okay, so inside your body, you’ve got a prostate and some testes. Running between the two, like some kind of sperm fun slide, you have your vas deferens. Most vasectomies these days are referred to as “open ended” and it involves closing the end of the vas deferens at the prostate gland, and leaving the end connected to your testes open. This way your little swimmers can be set free in the scrotum where they live a full and happy life before dying and being reabsorbed by your body. You’ve basically just become a bio-organic method of sperm reincarnation.
And no, before you ask, you won’t feel your sperm wiggling around in your balls, because do you know how tiny those little fuckers are?
The procedure itself doesn’t even involve a knife. They more or less just pinch open a tiny hole in your balls and poke your vas deferens out through it (don’t look up videos, it might be painless, but it’s fucking gross). You won’t need stitches or anything either, which means you heal up super quickly. If you book in for a Friday, you’re back at work by Monday.
And the whole thing is done with local anaesthetic. Which, actually, you have to be kind of careful about, because a whole heap of Australian vasectomy clinics are advertising a “no scalpel, no needle” procedure, but the device they use instead of a needle for the local anaesthetic isn’t approved to be used in Australia cos sometimes it doesn’t work as well as it should. And I dunno about you, but if someone’s poking around in my ball sack, I’d want to be fucking certain I couldn’t feel anything first. If you’re super nervous you can get a sedation though, and enjoy being off your tits while a stranger plays with your balls (hey, sounds like a great way to spend a Friday to me).
Basically your whole procedure takes less than 15 minutes. In fact, most dudes don’t actually even know when it’s over because they don’t feel anything. Once the local wears off you can expect bruising, swelling, all that fun stuff. But you pretty much pop some panadol, ice your balls and spend the weekend on the couch watching re-runs of Judge Judy and you’re right as rain.
Some guys might experience epididymitis, but this is a quick fix with a course of of antibiotics. It’s also possible to experience a hematoma (a blood vessel drops the ball and forms a clot) but these are usually reabsorbed by the body. You'll also need to use a condom until you go in for your sperm check to make sure the procedure was a success.
At this point I’m going to ask anyone who is thinking of ever having (more) kids to stop reading. I’m no longer talking to you (but come back soon, because I do still love you)!
So, to all the people who are left - when are you getting one?
At this point some of you might be starting to feel a bit of an awkward tingle in your balls, imagining how it’s going to feel, or how you’ll be emasculated by the procedure.
Let’s get a few things straight. It’s about as close to painless as a procedure can get. You’ll probably experience more pain from your annual hygiene checkup at the dentist (and your vasectomist won’t give you shit about not flossing your balls enough).
A vasectomy isn’t going to affect your testosterone levels. Like, not even slightly. It’s not going to affect your hard on. It’s not going to affect your orgasm. It’s not going to affect your ability to help your partner orgasm. Literally the only thing it’s going to affect is your sperm’s ability to leave your testicles.
Don’t believe me? Well, meet Science. Science says that after a vasectomy your chances of having more sex and better sex are both increased (oh, and you’ll be more attractive to your partner).
Just for the sake of clarity, let’s sum this all up. You have a procedure that’s pretty much painless, that will prevent you from getting anyone pregnant, and will end up saving you money. It doesn’t impact your boner, balls or orgasms, and in fact offers the change to increase the frequency and quality of your sex. And to top it all off you get to be a fucking kickass feminist ally by doing it. So my only question is, what the fuck are you waiting for?!
That is all.
You may go now.