I will begin with the disclaimer. This is my personal account of my vasectomy, and includes my opinion only – if you want medical advice then please speak with your doctor! Like my previous health related blogs (Hernia Repair: Operation Belly Button Weight Loss: My heavy heart) I hope this read will inform you, and maybe prompt questions, if you or someone you know is pursuing a similar procedure.
At time of writing, approximately 1 month after the procedure, I still do not know if the operation has been a success – whether I am sterile – but I can report I am without any pain and everything is otherwise working as it should. I know from my reading of blogs on this topic that these are understandably the primary concerns of men and their partners. I can honestly state that my only regret is not getting “fixed” a lot earlier, certainly we had agreed no more children and that should have been the moment….so think on.
It was in January 2017 I finally committed to address the issue – to grasp the nettle so to speak. I did not appreciate the process would be quite so lengthy but accept that this is a decision which does merit thorough consideration and must be properly informed. So, be prepared for a pre-operation consultation beyond the discussion you might have with your GP or a Practice Nurse. It was several weeks between the initial request was made and the consultation with the surgeon but a much shorter gap between this and the procedure being completed. Not sure whether evidence supports my experience but both consultation and operation were both subject to being brought forward due to cancelled procedures! So be prepared to be flexible in your own arrangements as opportunity might be made to bring matters forward.
It will be self-evident that the whole of this process does require very “personal exposure”. However, having been present during birth of all my children I am not in the least tempted to make any statement about embarrassment or “loss of dignity” as my wife endured so much more, indeed I would be shamed if I pretended otherwise. Whilst no poseur I’ve never been embarrassed to drop my pants when required. I’m content with the equipment evolution and parentage has blessed me with but I could never make a career from it – however if you are in anyway bashful you will need to mentally prepare yourself to put on a show. I have one tip. I think it helps all parties by saving some time, and perhaps a moment or two of awkwardness. You’ll know that the area will need shaving so if you don’t already “keep it clean” then get to it. It will make it easier for the examination, and save time on the day of the procedure – and if important you get to choose the style.
I consider myself very fortunate to have had such a great surgeon. I was reassured immediately at the pre-operation; he was friendly, engaging and willing to invest time to deal with my questions. Although I had read up on the procedure I was still keen for it to be explained to me, and to listen to the risk, and the after-care arrangements too. There was a short physical examination of my balls. It was not clear what was being looked for but apparently I “passed” and it was confirmed the operation was appropriate. The most awkward part of the process was when I inexplicably thanked the doctor shortly after he uncupped me. I know. One other point worth highlighting was my wife, who accompanied me, being verbally asked for her consent and then asked to sign consent form. I did not expect this.
I did not hold any anxiety about having a vasectomy. As I wrote above my only regret was not doing this sooner. Following the pre-operation consultation I was now enthusiastic to get it done – and I was delighted when I received a phone call offering me an earlier date which otherwise was going to be a 6 week wait. I do not see any value sharing the information given by the doctor as the answers were specific to me and my circumstances but it might be helpful to note the questions I asked:
- How long will surgery last?
- When can I drive again?
- Are there any exercises I should do?
- How do I clean myself, and will I need dressing changed?
- If applicable don’t forget to ask for a sick certificate for work.
- Of course, the obvious question about sex.
The single best piece of advice given to me, and which I have stuck to, is to listen to your body. Yes it is important to rest, to take painkillers, to keep wound clean, and do only what your body allows you to comfortably do. In my experience the first 24 hours were the most painful and I was largely confined to bedroom – if anything to protect myself from the love and attention of my kids and dogs. Otherwise each day afterwards I just sought to protect myself from being stretched or “bumped”. Make sure your package is, well, well-packed by wearing tight underwear on the day of the operation and for up to a week later. For the first overnight I also used a sanitary pad to provide extra support and protect stitches.
Below is a summary of my diary for the first week:
Day of operation:
I took ibuprofen before we left home, so approxiamtely and hour before due time. Another short discussion about the operation, and a more detailed description of the after-care arrangements including how semen samples are tested. Still something weird about sending my sample through the post but tally ho!
I was in surgery for approximately 45 minutes. As predicted the “scratch” of local anaesthetic was possibly most painful part of the process – a needle in your balls need I say more. However the dragging of my tubes was both strange and unpleasant, best described as that feeling you get when you go over a bump at speed in a car but really unpleasant slow motion version. The only other moment I can describe of the surgery is the moment when I realised there were four people looking at my genitals whilst we all engaged in general chit chat.
After surgery I took the opportunity for a 5 minute rest and a drink of water before getting changed for the slow journey home. You will not be able to drive, and I also suggest if possible you do not choose a low seated car or try and climb into the back of anything. I took a cushion with me, and if nothing else it gave me some mental comfort.
Day 1 (Recovery)
Very little pain when at rest but it felt like I had been booted in the jewels when I walked but especially using stairs or if otherwise lifting my legs. I had a cowboy walk but mostly it was effected by concern rather than real pain. On the understanding that pain might follow, as it had been described to me, I regularly took painkillers for the first 2 days. I was advised not to get the dressing wet but did tenderly use alcohol wipes and applied fresh dressings under tight underwear for the first week. My first wee was an unanticipated unusual experience – you’ll need to cautiously lift your equipment for first couple of days – but I found actually starting flow quite difficult to get going and this was position for first few occasions.
Days 2 & 3
My feelings and anxieties did not change very much. I become a bit bolder with my activity but still very much aware of my vulnerabilities. I had been given a doctor’s certificate for a week of reduced activity and probably if my job was physical I would probably rest for the week. I continued to wear the tight underwear but stopped taking painkillers without any incident. I could feel the incision was healing well, and did not feel any pain unless I touched my balls….so I stopped doing that.
This was a good day, without any pain at all. I managed a decent walk outside, and a short drive in the car. First sex exercise, it did not involve chandeliers, but passed without incident or concern.
Walking is good. Just keeping cautious with regard to other exercise including gardening etc and lifting children. Not yet brave enough to engage with long dog walks but getting there. I have not experienced any follow up pain but aware of expected continued tenderness. Scar, it is size of 5p, is healing really well and have now started to shower including soaping all over. No more alcohol wipes or dressings now. First formal “romantic evening” post-operation and with heavy caveats it passes as successful (apparently).
Taking first steps back towards normality. Scaring has all but healed up.