I went to see the doctor last Thursday. As it turns out it was pretty straightforward, but only because my wife and I had done our homework. We’ve been through a lot in the last couple of years, individually and together, and our doctor has been involved in a lot of that. So she was supportive of our decision straight away, knowing that my wife has been told that following her recent surgery it could be dangerous for her to get pregnant again.
That said, there was a moment when she looked at me uncomfortable and told me she had to ask a few questions that might seem a little heartless. I had already read about these sorts of questions so I wasn’t thrown but it did feel a little strange answering them. Have we considered what would happen if we split up in the future? Or what if one of our children died? Of course we have thought about all of this, but talking to a relative stranger about it was weird.
Those hurdles out of the way we got down to the formalities. There was no inspection of my tackle, despite the doctor having told me last visit that she’d have to do the cough test. In retrospect she must have been winding me up, but I took it seriously and had got my pant house in order just in case!
Some of the cold hard facts that she told me:
- The procedure is more than 99% effective – about the same as female sterilisation.
- You can’t fly short haul for a couple of days after the op (why would you want to?)
- You can’t fly long haul for a couple of weeks
- In the short term the tubes that have been cauterised can heal, rejoining. In that case, the procedure would be deemed to be unsuccessful and would need to be repeated. You’re expected to give sperm samples for a 4-5 months after the operation, until you’re given the all-clear that you’re firing blanks.
- Apparently it’s also possible for the tubes to heal years after the operation, but the only way of knowing that this has happened is an unexpected pregnancy.
- The vas deferens is cauterised (sealed with heat) to prevent sperm getting through. You’ll still produce semen though, and ejaculation will feel no different.
- The procedure takes between 10-15 minutes.
- I’ll need to take a couple of days following the procedure to rest up – get the Sopranos box set ready.
- Scar tissue from a hernia or other testicular operation can make the operation more complicated.
- It is possible (rarely, she stressed) to experience long-term testicular pain after the operation, but this can be treated in most cases.
- The procedure has no effect on your hormone production, and therefore no effect on your sex drive.
We then sat in front of the computer and looked at a list of surgeries in the area that perform vasectomy procedures. She gave me an NHS referral login and sent me on my way to book the appointment at one of the three closest, giving me the chance to do a bit of homework on each and find out what feedback they have.
Of the three, two had atrocious feedback on the NHS website. The third was only a slight bit better – a Marie Stopes International centre, better known as abortion clinics. I guess no-one’s going to come out of a vasectomy saying how much they enjoyed it, and the same goes for a termination. So out of a pretty unspectacular list I made my choice and booked the appointment. The next available is at the beginning of December, a lot further away than I had expected. Add the three month wait to 4 months minimum following the operation when you can’t be sure that you’re safe, and we’re already into 7 months until we can stop using other methods of contraception. Neither of us likes to use condoms, and my wife is off the pill because it causes havoc with her other medication. That leaves only one viable option really, but does my wife really want to go through the hassle and discomfort of having a coil when it’s for such a short space of time? Perhaps we’ll just have to suck it up and bag up.