I wasn’t originally planning on putting this on my LiveJournal, much less putting it in an open post.
However, kalluna convinced me that other people might find the information, especially from a participating perspective, useful.
So, this past Thursday, I had a no-scalpel vasectomy. This is often described as “minor surgery” (which seems odd, because the goal is to ensure a lack of minors)…
It is, in my experience, just this side of trivial surgery. A sprained ankle is more painful, and a wisdom tooth extraction is enormously more painful and intrusive. However, in fairness, I have also experienced the very low end of the expected side effects (minor pain, no swelling, no bruising, be at work the next day), and had a very experienced surgeon perform the operation1.
So, what exactly is involved?
Step 1: Dotting I’s, Crossing Legs
First, you have to make a screening appointment. This serves a couple of purposes. First, to be sure that you really want to have the procedure done. Yes, they are reversible — in theory. That means a very expensive and intrusive surgery, with a 70-80% chance of success. If your thought is “well, I could get it reversed later”, that means, “don’t have the surgery”2. Now, they also want to make sure you aren’t being pressured into it by your spouse or significant other3, and that you are aware of the details and risks of the procedure. The other check is to make sure that your particular anatomy is standard, and that there aren’t any deviations from the norm that would make the surgery more difficult, or possibly even impossible. And let’s face it, given that the surgery is done under a local anaesthetic, you really don’t want to hear, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything wired like that before” from the surgeon…
Step 2: Countdown to Infertility
After the screening appointment (and every practice I spoke to insisted that none of their people would ever do a same day screen and operate), you make an appointment for the actual procedure. Before the procedure, however, there is one task you will have to do yourself. Or at least, if you have ever had a nurse do a quick shave of patches of your chest for exam leads, you will want to do yourself.
That’s right, your favorite beanbag needs to be delinted. Get a good safety razor (gents, you might want to consider those safety razors for women aimed at places more sensitive than your chin), a fresh blade cartridge, and prepare to spend half an hour or so very gingerly scraping your scrotum. You really don’t want someone without that little biofeedback circuit doing the manipulations necessary to get everything. This is, incidentally, fairly daunting. At least the surgery is being done by an expert.
Step 3: What is that snick-snick-snip sound?
Surgery day! Light lunch, and then it’s time. You could actually drive home afterwards, but you probably want to bring someone to drive you. Feel free to use guilt if you must, gentlemen, ego te absolvo4. Once you arrive, you check-in, get hooked up to the machine that goes ping, and discover that your Blood Pressure is slightly elevated (what were the odds?). Then you get to drop your trousers, and put on the latest in paper designer bibs, and, let us be perfectly frank here, make sure that only your newly bald sack is visible, carefully arranged, and newly scrubbed down with an anti-microbial. At this point, the doctor will give you a local anaesthetic (in some cases, it may not require a needle). In my case, it was three injections, and the nice thing about an injection of a local is that it really is just a pin-prick. Then, it’s time to get to work.
Since you don’t actually get to watch, you have this somewhat odd experience of a vague tactile sort of tugging, and hearing the sounds of clamps and the occasional snip. Now, to be fair, at one point I did feel somewhat of an ache — nothing major, just discomfort, but that was (you may cross your legs again) nerves outside of the scrotum reacting to the tugging as everything was being moved around. And there was one period of a slight cutting sensation (again, a paper cut would be significantly worse), and then that was it. All done. Not even a stitch (stitches are sometimes required).
Spent the evening playing video games with an ice pack on my balls, and went into work the next day…
First of all, I am not a doctor. Second, as I said earlier, I certainly had the low end of what the paperwork they gave me described as the normal range of post-operatic symptoms. Third, I’m not a doctor, you had damned well better discuss things with your physician5.
1. Dr. Shaban, UNC Medical Center. I cannot recommend him highly enough, and he is extremely experienced with this procedure. Let’s put it this way, this is the doctor I let carve open my genitalia. Enough said? If you aren’t near UNC, whatever you do, make sure that you get a surgeon who does the procedure on a regular basis. You don’t want to be anyone’s set of training balls, ‘kay?
2. If your mother’s thought is, “Well, at least it could get reversed”, that’s fine. Hi Mom!
3. One of the major but rare side effects is serious depression. In some cases, they think it is due to an undiagnosed pre-operative depression being exacerbated by subconcious feelings of emasculation. In others, it may just be some poor schmuck realizing, “Damn, I just let someone push me into getting my doodads diddled!”
4. Yeah, yeah, I’m not a Priest. Don’t care, we had guilt first, and therefore, I feel free to authorize its use in a worthy cause. Certainly, if you drive a standard, you should feel morally justified in pressuring someone to help. No one is meant to work a clutch with a newly hewn marble bag.
5. Although the cynic in me is of the opinion that anyone stupid enough to be surgically sterilized on the basis of a LiveJournal post is best thrown out of the gene pool anyway.