My biggest fear in reporting a story about vasectomies was that no men would want to talk to me about the procedure. How wrong I was. “One comical thing I've noticed about people who've had a vasectomy is that we have zero issues having this discussion,” James C., a father of two who lives in New Jersey tells me over the phone. “It's like a weird fraternity.”
We don’t actually know a lot about the approximately 500,000 men who choose vasectomies annually in US, but we do know that “vasectomy use is surprisingly low and declining,” as one study put it. Despite the fact that vasectomies are outpatient procedures that last 10-20 minutes on average and have very few risks, and they are a remarkable safe and effective form of contraception, they’ve been on the decline in the US since 2002. Maybe talking about it will help people see that number of men opting for vasectomy should absolutely be higher.
I spoke with 12 cis men, all fathers, about their experience before, during, and after the procedure. The bottom line: Almost everyone said it was really easy, and no one regrets their decision.
46 | Jersey City | Two children
My vasectomy was my 39th birthday present; I scheduled my initial consultation right around my birthday. I was confident I didn’t want any more kids. The procedure itself was a little awkward. Having the hospital gown with the crotch cut out of it — you’re kind of, like, on display, and it’s really cold. So it’s not exactly the most flattering environment to be in if you’re a dude. There’s a spotlight on your frozen junk. And in addition to the doctor who was performing a surgery, there were two young, attractive female interns sitting there discussing like my whole situation. The urologist is like, “Please note how perfect the anatomy is…” This is before they even got started!
But despite all that, I was actually very comfortable. The hardest part was getting myself home... on the subway... from the Upper West Side to Jersey City. As I’m walking, the pain medication is starting to wear off and my mother called — I hadn’t told her about the surgery, but it’s like she had some weird Spidey-sense thing going on. It was not a very comfortable situation.
In terms of advice, I’m not one to tell people to do things one way or the other, but when people ask me, I say if you have any indecision about the matter I would say don’t do it, but seriously weigh what the consequences are, not just for yourself but for your whole family. Look at the bigger picture. Also, if you’re curious about having a vasectomy, don’t be afraid to ask questions. And definitely don’t ride the subway home. It’s bumpier than you think.
46 | Ottawa | Three children
I decided to get a vasectomy (from Ottawa’s “vasectomy king”) because my wife and I were happy at three kids and I could finally do something that was about our sexual reproductive health.
The procedure is not covered by public health (though it should be) but is relatively affordable at about $400. And did I mention it was super easy? My wife dropped me off and the procedure took 10 minutes, after which I got a ginger ale and two morphine tablets. I watched movies for the afternoon, with ice on my testicles. (I never had to take the second one.) Raiders of the Lost Ark is awesome on morphine. And get this! You get a prescription to ejaculate at least 10 times to clear out any potent stragglers that remain in the pipes. Women’s bodies are forever changed through pregnancy and childbirth, and men get a prescription to ejaculate.
41 | Alabama | One child
My wife and I decided we didn’t want any more kids, and didn’t like any other birth control options. The experience was fine, if a bit more painful than anticipated, but a very short procedure, and the med staff were great at keeping me comfortable throughout. Recovery was a few days of dull aching but easily managed with supportive undergarments and ice packs, and I returned to normal activity after about two weeks. I am very happy to have had the procedure! The intended outcome (raw dog without risk) has been great. I have occasional pain in the spermatic cord (maybe two or three times a year), and it might not be correlated with the procedure. I think I also have some palpable scar tissue in the scrotum, but that is speculation. It might sound like I’m complaining, but I am very happy with the outcome and I would do it again tomorrow if necessary.
It has been such a relief to stop worrying about unwanted pregnancy. I had actually forgotten how much stress was associated with pregnancy risk now that it is gone from my life.
46 | Los Angeles | Three children
I was very, very sure I didn’t want any more kids, so there was no ambivalence about that. At my hospital, it’s a three-step process to get a vasectomy — first you watch an online video, then you go in person to the urologist to sign paperwork, and then you get the surgery. Each step requires an appointment. I had done the first two steps and was all set to have surgery in April of 2020, but then the pandemic halted all elective surgeries. Unfortunately, in that time, I accidentally got my wife pregnant, and she had to have an abortion. That was an extra catalyst to get the vasectomy ASAP no matter what, and I started the whole process over about a year later.
The procedure was easy. The worst part was lying on the operating table with my junk hanging out waiting for the urologist to be ready. There’s something about making small talk about your job and local sports teams while a guy swabs your genitals with iodine — it’s not great. That and shaving my balls, which I’d never done (and never will again, God willing!). The only actual pain I felt was one part where the doctor was cauterizing my vas deferens and must have strayed a bit too far in one direction or the other because I felt an electric jolt in my balls. But it was a fraction of a second, and that was it.
To guys on the fence I’d say: First, don’t be afraid — it’s not a big deal of a procedure at all. Second, this is one of the only times you’ll have as a parent or a partner where you will have a real reason to sit around and do nothing. Not only can you do that and not feel guilty, feel good about it! You’re doing something responsible! And let’s face it, women have to deal with a lot when it comes to contraception. Getting a vasectomy is the least we can do.
40 | Illinois | Two children
I went to a general surgeon to have the procedure done… Big mistake. I should have realized this was going to go bad when the surgeon required my then-wife to be at my consultation to give permission for me to have the procedure. Despite this red flag, my first vasectomy was a breeze... Unfortunately, it also didn’t work. After seeing no decline in sperm count, the doctor called me to come back to have the procedure performed again. I impolitely told him what I thought of him, his practice, and the entire process.
About two years passed, and I decided to see a urologist for analysis and consultation. Turns out I was still fully loaded, and we scheduled my second vasectomy. The procedure should take about 45 minutes but took over 2 hours. A nurse came in a few times to check to see if the doctor was ok. I was not OK. Turns out the original surgeon cut along the vas deferens rather than through it, creating so much scar tissue that the urologist referred to it as “trying to cut cement spaghetti.” The recovery process was just as brutal. I never felt more seen as when Michael Scott said, “Do you have any idea the physical toll three vasectomies have on a person?” And after about six months, I was finally sterile. In spite of all that, I’m happy to have taken responsibility for my part in the reproductive process. But if you’re considering a vasectomy, for the love of all that is holy, go to a urologist!
35 | Connecticut | Two children
The procedure was honestly not that bad. The doctor did a great job not only keeping me comfortable during the experience but was also knowledgeable in what and why he was doing everything. Of course, there were a few days of soreness, but I was fortunate enough to be able to lay in bed all weekend being waited on by my wife. I was back to work on Monday doing a fairly physically intensive job.
There’s a — “weight” isn’t quite the correct word but is close — that’s lifted. You don’t have the monthly little wonder in the back of your head of whether your partner was pregnant, and it’s good to have that mental space free. Also, if I really try, I can feel the caps that they put in, and who doesn’t want to feel like they’re a bionic man? I would want people who are considering the procedure to know that it’s nowhere near as scary as it seems.
40 | Connecticut | Two children
I was done having kids. My uncle had had a vasectomy when I was little, and even at the time, it made so much sense. I told myself that as soon as I knew I was done having kids, I’d do the same thing. In terms of the actual procedure, I think I’m an outlier in that I did not have a pleasant experience. Due to cryptorchidism [undescended testicle] that had to be corrected with surgery when I was a kid, one vas deferens is significantly shorter than the other. The doctor had trouble finding it, leading to a 10-minute or so stretch where he was just rooting around trying to find the damn thing, and he was probing areas that hadn’t been properly or thoroughly numbed. I also don’t think he was that skilled or experienced with the procedure, which didn’t help. I literally sweated through my T-shirt during the procedure.
Fortunately, recovery was a breeze. I had the procedure done on a Friday afternoon specifically so I could sit on the couch with frozen peas on my crotch and watch movies. It was a little sore, but it healed fast and with no issues, and it’s f*cking great. I’ll be honest: Sex from start to finish without a condom is a freakin’ blast, especially since we don’t have to worry about pregnancy. To anyone thinking about getting it done, I’d say do it as soon as you can. Even with my less than ideal experience, I’d do it again tomorrow to keep this peace of mind.
45 | Maine | Three children
I got my vasectomy as quickly as possible after the birth of our third boy. Three kids was enough, especially after we had decided on two and then had a birth control mishap that led to our pleasant little surprise third. I wanted peace of mind.
The procedure itself was a bit nerve-wracking, but my doctor was professional and efficient. I don’t remember how long it took, but all I felt was some light pressure and pulling and some mental discomfort, and then he finished up and that was that. The decision to get the vasectomy was a no-brainer. No more kids, no more birth control needed, and most importantly, no additional medical experience for my wife. There’s no need to put her through that level of procedure when the same result can be achieved through a much less invasive one.
My advice to others who are thinking about getting a vasectomy is don’t worry about the procedure. It’s pretty much nothing, and not a big deal at all. But listen to the doctor after your procedure: I’ve had friends who had some significant issues afterward (mostly discomfort, some pain, and differing levels of swelling and discoloration), and those were, in every single case, due to them not listening to their doctor and resuming “activity” too soon. I waited even longer than what the doctor said to, and I had zero issues whatsoever. I wasn’t interested in tempting the fates with that part of my body!
39 | Texas | Two children
I had my vasectomy done a month after our second son’s first birthday. I felt like two boys was enough, and I did not need convincing. I remember booking the appointment and expecting my wife to be all supportive and full of praise for me taking responsibility for our family planning or whatever, and instead she was like, “Let’s not pretend you’re not mainly doing this for you.”
The procedure was fine. You’d probably be amazed at how nonchalant most urologists are about operating on dudes’ ball sacks all day. The recovery was a little worse than I thought it’d be. A couple of guys I knew were all macho about it, like, “Oh, I was playing tennis three days later,” but it took me a week or two to be comfortable again. As with so many things in life, the clichés were annoyingly true. Two bags of frozen peas that you rotate are all you need.
If you’re on the fence about it because you think you might want more kids, that’s OK! Talk it through with your partner and be sure. If you’re on the fence about it because you’re afraid… Don’t be such a f*cking baby. I’ve watched two natural childbirths and passed a kidney stone. A vasectomy is no big deal.
43 | Texas | Two children
The experience was simple and quick and almost painless, but the psychological aspect was really the only difficulty. I probably should have requested some type of anti-anxiety pill to calm my nerves. But once things got underway, I felt almost nothing. I remember at one point I asked the doctor if my scrotum was cut yet because I couldn’t feel anything, and his reply was “At this very moment, I’m being as mean to you as I possibly could be.” It was a bit surreal, but painless.
The recovery was quite mild. I did have to Google pictures of scrotums after a vasectomy because mine looked horrific, and I thought there is no way that is normal. (There was lots of bruising, but it was, in fact, normal and looked pretty much back to normal after two to three days.)
Since the procedure, sex and orgasms are the same as before, and not worrying about contraceptives or pregnancy has been such a positive. There was a short period about two to three years later when we wondered whether we should have had another baby before the vasectomy, but that passed fairly quickly. I was raised Catholic and have spent my adult life in and out of that faith, so there was some introspection and worry about whether or not I had made a harmful decision. My faith journey has brought me to a place where I have made peace, and I don’t think I did something wrong. My creator knows me and understands my mind and heart. I have no regrets here.
39 | Arizona | Three children
My wife and I decided we were done having kids after the birth of our youngest in February 2021. We also didn’t want her to need to use hormonal methods of birth control in her late 30s and beyond. The procedure itself took about 20 minutes to complete from the time I sat in the operating chair. Everything was painless and much less intimidating than I expected. I mostly stayed off my feet for the first 48 hours and got back to normal life after that. I was even able to resume outdoor walks and bicycle rides less than a week after the procedure.
I’m so glad I did it. I’d advise other men to find a doctor recommended to you by someone you trust. Ask them all the questions you need to so that you feel comfortable. Trust that a little discomfort is expected, and you’ll be back to normal before you know it.
40 | Connecticut | Three children
Our twin girls were conceived through IVF, and then five years later, out pops my boy, Joey. That was an unexpected surprise and we were very happy to have him, but to have another Joey would just be too many Joes.
Some guys think you’re losing your manhood and all this bullshit: You’re truly not. You’re not emasculating yourself. You’re not changing anything that’s going to impact your dynamic of being a man. I laugh at my friends who think it’s a big deal still and haven’t gotten it done. It’s about being responsible, too. You ladies go through a whole lot of sh*t. You give us the kids. We can go through a little bit of pain and awkwardness. It’s still nothing in comparison to having a kid.