When your doctor calls to tell you your recent vasectomy didn’t work, it’s a feeling of 99 percent disappointment and 1 percent pride.
Spending $1,200 to have someone slice into your private parts, followed by a weekend or so of general tenderness in an already tender region — really the capital of the tender region — is something you don’t soon forget.
But the pride is there. “Not even modern medicine can stop my seed,” I thought to myself after I hung up the phone. Followed by, “I wonder if the redo is free?”
Like most men who arrived this point, I had reached my kid limit (one girl, one boy), and had a wife who, very reasonably, did not want to be on the pill until she was post-menopausal.
From the first doctor visit, you get up to speed on terms used to avoid awkward intricacies of a vasectomy. Masturbation, sperm, ejaculation: These are cringe-worthy, suck-the-air-out-of-a-room words no one wants to say in a conversation — or write about — ever. So you’re told to “produce a specimen” and “bring in your sample,” and everyone gets through the conversation with a straight face.
We decided to hedge our bets, which meant banking some of my “genetic material” just in case our kids go down in a plane crash or turn out like Paris Hilton. This consisted of me visiting a very normal medical building on “Pill Hill,” being handed a cup, and led into a room with a DVD player and a drawer of magazines. The nurse explained what I was supposed to do (using the aforementioned pleasant terms). She asked if I had any questions. I did not.
Truth be told, I didn’t like the porn room. Sure, I did what I had to do. But the thought of all the other guys that had been there before me was ... disconcerting. Was I one step closer the Lusty Lady crowd? Darting in after work with a roll of quarters? It felt like business, not pleasure. I found out later that two of my buddies had visited the same room for the same purpose. One, like me, was in and out fast. The other camped out and spent the entire afternoon watching every movie and looking at every magazine. I haven’t looked at him the same way since.
Afterward, you have options for storage. If you’re part of the in-vitro crowd, you need your material close by for quick access. For long-term savers like me, you get to send your precious cargo off to some giant storage facility in Colorado and save a few bucks. I assume it’s called Sperm Mountain.
The actual procedure was what I would call moderately uncomfortable. You get a valium beforehand. You get anesthesia injected into your testicles. It’s not as painful as it sounds. Kind of like a Novocain shot. The male nurse shaved away what was left of my dignity while discussing the movie he and his boyfriend saw last weekend. Good times.
The doctor, who had "done thousands of these,” gave me the play-by-play as he lifted, sliced and snipped. I wondered how many men lost their nerve right here and called it off just before the big cut.
The post-surgery instructions, right there in black and white, call for 30 ejaculations (sorry) over three months, followed by a test to see if you’re shooting blanks. I handed the paper to my wife and said, “You're going to want to clear your calendar.”
If you ever want to take the fun out of sex or self-pleasure, this was how to do it. Who wants to make a quota? Talk about pressure. Didn’t they know we’re not newlyweds? That we have children?
Needless to say, we got it done. And the moment I hit the magic number, I was ready for the test. The test that would open up a lifetime of contraception-free sex. Of course, they don’t allow you to visit the special room for this test. You need to “produce a specimen” at home (or wherever) and bring it into the doctor’s office (within two hours).
I knew I’d failed the test when the actual doctor called with the results. Instead of hearing, “You're sterile, go crazy!” I heard, “Try 20 more ejaculations and then bring in another sample.” He didn’t even bother with the pleasant language. I was afraid to ask what came after that. Another procedure? Another $1,200? Naturally, my insurance policy doesn’t cover vasectomies, and now I know why. You apparently have to have two of them, or more.
After reaching my magic number (again), the second test results came in. At least I’m consistent. Despite a professional doctor cutting into my testicles and severing the “vas” tubes (Google it), I am still quite capable of reproduction. This is a great concern to my wife, who went off the pill after the first procedure, shortly after the extremely painful birth of our second child, an almost-10-pound boy who attempted to come out sideways until the doctors cut him out of her belly.
And now we’re back to where we started. Vasectomy No. 2 has been completed (on the house). The three-month date has been circled on the calendar. If this one doesn’t work, I will be even more disappointed. And a whole lot more proud.
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