"Vasectomy should be considered permanent and irreversible. Don't be fooled by claims of reversible vasectomies...there is no such thing. If you attempt to reverse your vasectomy within the first three years of having it done, you have about a 70% chance of success (this falls considerably after ten years)." - Vasectomy.ca
The decision to get married, to have a child, to have a second child, and to be done having children all seemed to come fairly easily to us. The timing of each either made sense or felt right or both. We always had practical reasons for making those decisions and the emotional side seemed to follow along fairly easily.
I'd love to have more children. The sensation of snuggling up with and nursing a fresh newborn baby is something I would like to do over and over again. But, doing that would mean giving up other goals and dreams and making other substantive changes to our lives that neither of us is prepared to make.
We have two wonderful and exhausting children that complete our life. We were ready to make the permanent and irreversible decision to close the book on baby making.
Why a Vasectomy?
For every man who has a vasectomy, four women have a tubal ligation. - Joy Thompson from Planned Parenthood in Toronto Sun
A lot of people asked why we opted for a vasectomy. The answer seems fairly obvious to me. First, I had taken care of birth control for the past 16 years and as a couple that believes in equality, I guess that means it is his turn for the next 16 years.
In the man's case, it's a vasectomy. A quick, internal snip in the scrotum with a knife using a local anesthetic. It takes about 10 minutes, results in a few days of discomfort and heralds a condom- and baby- free future. Unfortunately, according to family therapists, some men believe a vasectomy will make them less of a man and refuse to take the plunge. For women, sterilization isn't quite as simple. Tubal ligation, as its known, requires surgery under general anesthetic -- in itself more risky -- to sever the fallopian tubes. - Steve Payne for the Toronto Sun
Second, if a man can undergo a short (less than 15 minute) outpatient procedure with local anesthetic, why should the woman be subject to major surgery? The third issue is the cost. Although both procedures are covered by public health care in Canada, the cost to the health care system (and therefore taxpayers like us) is about five times as much for a tubal ligation as for a vasectomy.
Ultimately, while each couple needs to make their own decision, I don't see any reason why someone would opt for tubal ligation over a vasectomy, except perhaps in cases of abuse where a woman is trying to ensure her abuser cannot get her pregnant again. Maybe there are other reasons and I'm sure my readers will enlighten me if there are.
The King of Vasectomies
Q. What happens if I get an erection during the procedure?
A. Funny you should ask. Out of some 31,000+ vasectomies, I have seen this occur only once. It is not an issue. - Vasectomy.ca
Ottawa has a king of vasectomies. Almost everyone (like 99.9%) of people here seem to go to Dr. Weiss, who has performed more than 31,000 no-scalpel vasectomies from his office on a residential street in the Glebe. No hospital, no long waits, no astronomical parking charges, no knife. There was no question. We went to Dr. Weiss.
My partner had to pick up a preparation package in advance of his vasectomy. It included detailed instructions (with visuals!) on how to shave, a surgical razor, a support to wear on the day of the vasectomy, a prescription for the Valium to take an hour before the procedure and pain medication for after the procedure, an ice pack and a few other random items.
My partner had the "all in one" vasectomy, which means that he had his consultation and vasectomy all in one day. "Consultation, what consultation?" is what he said when I asked him about it. Essentially, he registered online, was given a time and date for his appointment,picked up the preparatory package, shaved, popped a Valium, and went to his appointment.
Q. Can my wife cut the tubes?
A. Not unless you're having the baby. Secondly, did you ask her if she wanted to? Third, unlike a birth, everything is sterile...so, sorry, but no. Vasectomy.ca
I had no interest in "cutting the tubes," so this wasn't an issue. When we arrived at the clinic (about 25 minutes early), we had barely sat down when he got called in. The procedure itself took no more than 10 minutes, didn't hurt at all, and he got a Coke when he was finished. All in all, less pain and less fuss than giving blood. We then had to sit in the waiting room for another 15 minutes before we were allowed to leave. We left the clinic before the actual scheduled time of his appointment. Easy and quick.
Q. What happens if you cut the wrong tube?
A. That would be terrible! If the testicular artery were cut, it might result in loss of the testicle. Fortunately, this is not a common problem and has never occurred in Dr. Weiss’ career. - Vasectomy.ca
Having this procedure, like any other, obviously requires you to trust that your health care provider knows what they are doing. With 31,000 vasectomies behind him, we felt pretty confident going to Dr. Weiss.
"Mommy, you have to bring me to bed tonight because Daddy's tentacles hurt." - Julian, age 6
The day of the vasectomy, after I brought him home, my partner sat down on the couch and watched a movie. He iced the area off and on with the ice pack that was provided to him by the doctor, but didn't even need the pain medication. I did the dishes and put the kids to bed that evening, but otherwise he was relatively low maintenance. ;) Nowhere near as bad as a man cold. For several days, he had periods of feeling slightly uncomfortable, like he had sat down wrong, but otherwise said that it was pretty easy to deal with.
Q. Do I have to ejaculate 20 times before doing the test?
A. What you tell your partner is your business…but time is more important than the number of ejaculations. Do your test at least 12 weeks after the vasectomy regardless of the number of ejaculations, although I recommend as many as possible. - Vasectomy.ca
In addition to the physical recovery, there is the clearing of the tubes. It takes about 12 weeks until the risk of getting pregnant is gone, so couples who don't want a "surprise" baby still have to take precautions for a little while.
Q. Am I going to gain weight after my vasectomy?
A. Only if you eat too much and don’t exercise enough. - Vasectomy.ca
After the short recovery period, everything is back to normal. Life goes on, but no more worries about birth control after the 12 week waiting period has passed. I no longer have to pump my body full of hormones or jump through other hoops to ensure that I don't get pregnant again. We're done. :)
You want to read more about vasectomies, don't you? Check out these other vasectomy posts from people in my social network:
- Andrea from a Peek Inside the Fishbowl: Dr. Snip
- Julie from Mabel's Labels: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Vasectomy Clinic
- Dani from Postcards from the Mothership: Beloved Visits Dr. Zap
- Karen from The Kids Are Alright: Worst Nurse
- Wildsau: V is for Vasectomy
- Matt Haughey: My Vasectomy
Image credit: kevjblack on flickr