The Toxic Swamp of Masculinity: An Oral History of my Vasectomy

Untitled Me, after two Valium and gauze applied no place a man ever expects to have gauze applied.

TMI Ahead.

Anyone who has read this blog, or my Facebook feed, or either of my two novels knows that I did not take to fatherhood easily. In fact, with the first two, I took to it VERY poorly at first. So at a certain point, Becky and I began discussing permanent ways to keep our physical love alive without adding any further…souvenirs, if you will.

Once I began researching vasectomies, I was shocked at the toxic swamp of masculine bullshit out there regarding this procedure. So much chest pounding and ponytail dragging about how men were made to procreate and changing that changes a man.

So. Much. Bullshit.

I’ve talked here quite a bit as well about my many, many problems with the modern ideas of masculinity and this stuff just re-enforced all of those feelings. One of the first times I remember being exposed to these ideas, was in an episode of HOME IMPROVEMENT where Tim is in the Urologist’s office talking about this and explaining that his stuff down there was like an amusement park and he didn’t want any of the rides messed with. Barf.

You know what’s masculine? Admitting when you’re tapped out as a father. Admitting that some of the sexual problems you’ve had in the past have nothing to do with the pipes, but are mental blocks due to pregnancy fears. For crying out loud, I managed to stay a virgin until I was 25 almost solely due to the fear of an accidental pregnancy throwing a wrench into my dreams (I realize that just drips with patriarchal stink, but that was the world I knew then). What’s masculine is wanting to use my limited resources, both mentally and financially, to give the three kids I already have the best life possible and the most time with them I can. And wanting to spend more time alone with my wife, who I adore to no end and don’t get to spend enough time with.

I love the kids I have and would not change how my life has turned out so far, but that doesn’t mean I need to keep pushing my luck and not take the proper steps to make it happen. So early this morning I bundled up, drove out to GameStop, waited in line for an hour and a half to get the new NES Classic Edition game system,  and then drove out to the doctor’s office and got the old snip and tug done.

So far everything seems to be recovering fine, and as far as I can tell, my masculinity remains intact. Updates to come if that changes, of course…

Update: Over on Facebook, someone asked me about the procedure itself and, since I hope some day in the future this post is found by someone looking for info and acts as a buffer between the wall of masculine BS, I thought I’d add my comments here as well.

So the procedure itself was really easy. I had no anxiety because I’ve been ready for it for a while. I had the no scalpel version, which I strongly recommend. Honestly, shaving me for the procedure took the most time. The nurse went crazy.

I have an incredibly low tolerance for pain and I barely noticed the procedure. I was also doped up, so go for that option as well if offered. After that, it’s been OK. Pretty achy, but our youngest has a fondness for kicking me hard down there when I’m holding her, so it’s not a unique feeling.

I slept a lot and felt pretty drained. Today I was feeling okay until I decided to run an errand to get a new cable box and feel like every cell between by legs revolted at once with pitchforks and flame throwers. So sleep a lot, stay in bed, and you should be good.

48 thoughts on “The Toxic Swamp of Masculinity: An Oral History of my Vasectomy

  1. You know what? I thought I didn’t like you at all, but I was wrong. You are excellent.

    (And e’erybody is going to be so happy about your decision. Take good care of yourself and when you’re all healed up, it’s awesome not to have that business on the to-do list. Best copay ever spent. : ) )

  2. As someone who is planning to have this done soon, I wanted to hear more about the nuts (pun totally intended) and bolts about the process and how it went down. Pain? Anxiety? Pain now after having it done? How long did it take? Etc.

    I patiently await this follow-up story. 🙂

  3. Obviously (maybe, I think) I’ve never had the procedure, but what I’ve learned from multiple friends who have is that it’s very important to do what the doctor says. Ten or twelve years ago, the advice was to stay off your feet for about 48 hours afterwards. No showers. Meals brought to you. Just stay down with your feet up. Take your pain meds. Use your icepacks. Sleep. Binge watch TV. Read a book. Then resume your life, gently.

    Everyone I know who had it done listened to the advice, took advantage of the forced break, and was surprised that it wasn’t that bad — except one. One lunatic I know woke up the next day feeling better than expected. He thought he’d mow the lawn real quick, a full acre with a push-mower. He pretty much wanted to die a few hours later and for the following several days.

    Don’t be that guy.

    Also, as with any procedure, if you take really good care of yourself in the leading days, the healing will be better. Get off any aspirin or blood thinners. (If you take supplements, check for this effect. Ginko Biloba, turmeric, and Vitamin E can have these effects, as well as a few others. It’s actually better to stop all supplements, except maybe Vitamin C in the week before.) Wean yourself off caffeine temporarily. Don’t have any alcohol for a few days. Eat good food, drink plenty of water, get good sleep.

    It’s a great thing for you to do and kinda life-changing in a great way. I’ve known seven guys I can think of who’ve had it done and the report was that it hurt, but not as badly as they thought it would and really four days or so later (if you’ve been good to yourself) they all felt fine.

    As with anything invasive, the first 100 hours I suggest extra rest, care, and low expectations. It seems a good rule.

    I know, you want to hear from guys. But just thought I’d tell you what I knew. : )

  4. No, I get that. Truly. You probably can get by with Motrin. I know that, as a female, it’s likely impossible for me to imagine how sensitive that area is and how comprehensively unpleasant it is to have pain in that region. I don’t know that there is a feminine equivalent. I mean, I’ve had two children. I’ve been incredibly sore in the nethers. But I just can’t know how it compares.

    I remember my husband said it kind of felt like having a headache in his balls, but that it was slightly worse for worrying that it was going to get worse. Does that make sense?

    So definitely, talk to guys. They’ll be able to explain it in better terms. Just know that, with that one exception, all the guys I know said it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

    Take good care and thank you for being so considerate and brave. It’s a cool thing for you to do.

  5. So the procedure itself was really easy. I had no anxiety because I’ve been ready for it for a while. I had the no scalpel version, which I strongly recommend. Honestly, shaving me for the procedure took the most time. The nurse went crazy.

    I have an incredibly low tolerance for pain and I barely noticed the procedure. I was also doped up, so go for that option as well if offered. After that, it’s been ok. Pretty achy, but our youngest has a fondness for kicking me hard down there when I’m holding her, so it’s not a unique feeling.

    I slept a lot and felt pretty drained. Today I was feeling okay until I decided to run an errand to get a new cable box and feel like every cell between by legs revolted at once with pitchforks and flame throwers. So sleep a lot, stay in bed, and you should be good.

  6. Just going to mention that a quick discomfort yields worry-free sex for, well, the rest of the time.

    Between the gratitude and lack of hassle, all I can recommend is be brave. You’ll be fine.

  7. Yeah, I’m glad to have had it done and it’s nothing compared to what others have to go through and all that. Two weeks before I’d dropped a table on my foot and they gave me percoset. Cut up my balls and they gave me a bag of frozen peas and aspirin. And I couldn’t even take the aspirin bc of my freakish blood disorder. Just funny all around when I had mine done. And funny to think about Bryan having it done, because his pain amuses me.

  8. Sam, I cannot even tell you how kind it is of you to equate the sacrifice of a few sore days in comparison to what women do for reproductive control.

    That is utterly awesome of you. It makes me happy. Thank you.

    I spent more than a decade altering my hormones (not without side effects!) to make fun, healthy, recreational sex even possible, a total of three years pregnant (and I hated that), two deliveries with all the focused discomfort in the nethers during and in the weeks of healing afterwards.

    I am not complaining! It is what it is and I’m thankful for the medical advances that made all of it possible and relatively safe. But my gratitude that my husband voluntarily took a turn at reproductive control is boundless. It feels kind, considerate, and fair – and that means so much.

    Thanks again for what you said.

  9. Lol! Sam, I reread your post and realized you said “what others go through” and I, in my fuzzy vision, had read “what mothers go through” — so, I’m not sure if that’s even what you were talking about and don’t know if my blabbering post actually makes any sense anymore.

    Anyway…

    : )

  10. Jamie Mason, If it seemed I was equating the two, good grief, I didn’t mean that at all. We’ve got two kids (neither was an easy birth, if any ever are). We were done having kids and getting my nuts snipped was certainly super easy compared to what my lovely bride would have had to go through for similar results.

    And I’m sorry for all your trouble. Glad to know that it’s worked out for you.

  11. I know so many women, including my wife, who have had awful problems with birth control and it just seems mean to put them through it. And yeah, the problems and complications associated with female sterilization compared to what we go through is not even funny.

    And seriously, I have no tolerance for pain and the anesthesia wasn’t bad at all. I suspect Sam had his back in the 1800s.

  12. Scott Neumyer
    Nice piece! I went over and stalked your page for a min. Finally, someone else appreciated “I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House”!

    But, your JAWS shoes? Dude! I’m not sure, but I may need each and every design.

  13. In 2010 I wrote a post about my ACL surgery. To this day it remains my most popular (at least my most often-read) and it has 122 comments. So I’m sure your vasectomy post will be very popular.

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