I had a vasecotmy on Thursday, December 4th. There are lots of personal accounts of vasectomies to be found out there on-line, but so many of them seemed different from mine. So I decided to throw in my two-cents as well.
This should go without saying, but a few parts of this post could involve sexual organs (in a non- sexual context), needles, stitches, arteries, blood, and the like.
I called my doctor’s office two weeks ago, not really knowing how to start this process, and simply told the receptionist that I wanted to have a vasectomy. She told me I’d need to schedule a consultation with my doctor, and proceeded to help me do so.
The next morning I was meeting with my doctor. I answered most of his routine questions before he could ask them. My wife and I both want this, we don’t want more kids, and if one of ours dies and we decide we want another then we’d adopt anyway (also, should I become divorced or widowed, I’m prepared to be shunned by women who want new children). I also knew about the small risk of chronic post-vasectomy-pain (and it was and still is my biggest fear about the procedure). This left my doctor with little more than to explain the details of how he performs the procedure (there are many ways to do a vasectomy) and to have me drop trou so he could be sure my vas deferens were locatable. I scheduled my appointment for a week from the next day.
The morning of, I shaved more than my face. I’d never done this before, and it was very strange. But it wasn’t the lengthy, tricky ordeal that websites with tips and techniques for doing so made it out to be. I didn’t nick or cut myself. I didn’t get any kind of razor burn or irritation. My advice? Do it in a shallow, warm bath, and give yourself plenty of time. Piece of cake.
I went to work, took the afternoon off, and did some of my normal duties while I could, like take out the trash and shovel the front steps. 45 minutes before my appointment, I took the two diazepam (Valium) my doctor has prescribed me, saving the third for if I needed it right before the procedure. The diazepam eventually made my face feel warm, and probably calmed me down a bit. But I didn’t feel drunk or “loopy” like I’d been told I would. I still had my wife drive me to the clinic.
The nurse gave me a minute to use the restroom, and then asked me if I was feeling drunk. I told her I felt pretty normal, except for the flush face and not being as nervous as I probably should have been. She told me I could take the third diazepam, but warned that it WOULD make me feel drunk and sleepy. I took it, but never did feel any different. But I’m still happy I wasn’t heart-racingly nervous or anxious. In fact, I WAS pretty relaxed and calm, so I know the diazepam was better than nothing. I’d recommend asking your doctor to prescribe some if he or she doesn’t automatically.
Then I undressed from the waist down (it’s ok to leave your socks on) and waited.
Now, this is where I feel like my story starts to differ from many other people’s. I didn’t have to wait a long time for my doctor to come in; he was there in a minute or two. It only gets better.
Many other stories I’ve read made it quite clear that the injection of the local anesthetic (to the scrotum and vas deferens) was excruciating. I wasn’t looking forward this this part, and told my doctor so. He said that most men he’s done the procedure for had also heard/read that the injection was horrific, and were then surprised by how easy it was. I suspect there’s something superior to my doctor’s technique, but the injections (each side) hurt less than the insertion of a needle for giving plasma and probably no more than that for giving blood. Similarly, I’d read that the dispensing of the anesthetic once the needed has been inserted is equally painful, but I found it to be quite bearable.
Next my doctor used a pair of tweezers to test my skin to make sure the anesthetic was working where it needed to. He kept asking me if I could feel what he was doing, and I continued to feel nothing. “That pinch was hard enough to draw blood” he told me. “We’re ready to get started.”
I didn’t feel any pain or discomfort as the first incision was made, although I did feel a slight sting when my doctor had to make the incision larger to better reach the vas deferens. It lasted less than a second, and my doctor explained that it was because he had to go right to the edge of the numbed area of my skin (less pain and quicker than doing another local anesthetic injection he reasoned). This was all fine with me, but it was momentarily unsettling to be feeling pain after the anesthetic was administered. There are horror stories on-line of men feeling great pain from improperly administered local anesthetic, so I’m glad mine experience was nothing like that.
There was another quick sting as stitching up the first side involved the edge of the numbed area again, and then the process was repeated for the right side (without any incision stinging). Both sides also involved cutting the vas, cauterizing them, tying knots in them and stitching them with silk thread to encourage internal scaring (further reducing the chance that my body will correct the procedure and undo my sterility), as well as cauterizing an artery that was nicked in the process. I didn’t feel ANY of this (not even a slight tugging) and wouldn’t have know any of it was happening if not for my doctor telling me. Obviously, I chose not to watch (although I easily could have). I did ask my doctor to keep me posted, as I was using my phone to live-blog the event. He was very amused by my publishing details, and was happy to help keep me informed.
Here’s all I managed to get typed out just before, during, and immediately after the procedure:
- Just took my Valium. Dr office in 45 minutes.
- taking another Valium… Gonna feel drunk soon I’m told
- Waiting in the procedure room. I’m normally wearing more pants than this.
- I am rent open!
- The injection was easy… Rest stings from time to time.
- Officially unhooked on one side of two!
- There is smoke….good deal
- Stitching up the left side
- Time for injection #2
- Stung more than left side
- Right side disconnected, stitching up
- All done! Cleaning up
- Wow, I shaved much, much more than I needed to. Gonna be itchy weeks ahead
- All dressed. Waiting for doc to come back and give me some post-op instructions (and codeine).
- I feel like I was kicked in the groin 20 minutes ago. Not too bad. Pain blocker injections should last another hour or two.
I called my wife while I was waiting for the doctor to come back with my post-op instructions, and she (and our girls) pulled in to the parking lot just as I walked outside. I could have drove home myself (Valium is SO overrated), but didn’t mind the escort.
I continued to provide some Twitter updates:
- Got home and found plenty of blood. Seems to have slowed though. Moderate pain…codeine taken, frozen peas in place.
- As long as I’m putting my feet up, taking codeine, and using ice, I’m not that uncomfortable.
My wife was amazing, wrangling both of the girls, through tantrums and wakeful nights and all sorts of the usual toddler and baby stuff that we normally try to share. Even when I insisted on something like loading the dishwasher, she sent me back to my movies and book on the couch. I did manage a grocery store run for diapers on Saturday, as well as a family outing to the annual chilly cook-off downtown later that afternoon. I never felt euphoric from the codeine I was taking (and in fact, it DID NOT even get rid of the occasional headache or sore neck), but I expect it helped a little.
This morning I twittered:
- Vasectomy recovery is moving along. Stayed on couch most of weekend, with some carrying the girls Saturday evening and some of Sunday…
- …Still some swelling and discomfort, but can sit at work and help with girls decently. Easiest part of vasectomy was the actual procedure!
Get a good doctor. It sounds like a lot of guys get bad doctors for their procedures, and suffer all kinds unnecessary pain and confusion. My doctor was awesome, and really made sure I was comfortable and informed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make demands.
Do buy an athletic supporter. If you wear boxers like me, you might be tempted to just pick up a pack of briefs instead. But trust me, they don’t provide the same support. After I removed my bloody supporter, I left it up to briefs for the next day and a half, and when I went back to the supporter on Saturday I couldn’t believe how much better it was. Skip the briefs and pick up two of these.
I’m not sure how much frozen peas helped. I’m still pretty swollen, but not much more or less than I was two days ago when I was icing regularly. Maybe it would have been a lot worse without the ice, but I’m not convinced.
Do schedule some time off. Sure you CAN get up and take care of business, but it’ll be much nicer to just lay low for a while. By Sunday I was replacing a filter in the furnace in the basement and changing sheets in the baby’s crib, but I was glad to be able to go back to the couch for a couple hours after each exertion.
Overall, I’m quite happy with how everything’s gone. I’m still waiting for the swelling to go down and the discomfort to leave completely, but I expect that to come over the next week or so.
Assuming I don’t experience any chronic post-vasectomy pain in the comming months and years, I give vasectomies my official seal of approval.