Andy’s story: American’s conventional surgery experience told with humor

It’s been a few months since my vasectomy and I thought I’d throw in my two cents (twopence for those across the pond?!) for those who are considering the big snip. I do so since others were kind enough to share their experiences on these pages.

Oh, I have this nasty habit of droning on, so if you dislike details, you may want to click back and read another personal story, like where someone writes: “Received anesthetic, cut, snip times 2, burn times 4, stitch, put on a jockstrap, rested, mowed lawn.” 🙂

Also please note that I am NOT a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or anything like that, just someone who got snipped myself, so you must consider my comments/opinions/rants & raves in that light.


My wife and I discussed my getting snipped about 5 years ago. (We’ve been married about 7 years.) She feared being gripped by some uncontrollable biological urge to have kids and suggested that we wait.

Anyway, about 2 years ago, after spending perhaps a little too much holiday time with her niece and nephew, she half-jokingly asked, “So, when are you going to get snipped?!” 🙂

We initially thought we’d keep our alternative fertilization avenues open via reversals and/or freezing sperm, however, a reported 50/50 success rate and fairly high expense (esp. for a reversal!) forced us to realize that 1) these alternatives were not guarantees and 2) a vasectomy, as you’ll rightly hear over and over again, MUST be regarded as a permanent procedure.

Having learned that “family planning” (i.e., a female’s tubal ligation or a male’s vasectomy) was covered by our medical insurance at 100% (one of the few bonuses of being in an HMO!), I called the insurance company to get the details. Much to my surprise, I easily got a referral from my “primary care physician” to see a urologist. I then set up an appointment with the urologist and was told that my wife must attend the first appointment. (I didn’t ask how that requirement worked if one lacked a wife!).

First appointment

A few weeks later, appointment time! They separated us. I felt like I was going through an immigration audit or something! The doctor talked with me alone in the examining room, primarily making sure I understood the permanence of the procedure. He also seemed to want to make sure it was my decision, and that I wasn’t wanting to do it under any duress. (Thus the separation, I guess.) Finally, he gave me a quick exam (some poking and prodding, turn your head and cough, that kind of stuff) to make sure he could do the procedure in the office, as opposed to requiring a hospital setting.

We then walked from the exam room to his office and my wife was already waiting there for us. He repeated some of the same discussion we had separately in the examining room and got her to nod her head in agreement. He mentioned that they require the wife to show up so there’s no sneakiness – i.e., the husband getting the vasectomy behind the wife’s back.

I, being the constant joker, quipped “this really isn’t my wife — I just rented her for the day.” He replied that as long as he has witnesses who saw a woman come in with me, he’s happy! Personally, I thought that his explanation was pretty weak! No identification was requested of either of us (except for my insurance card), so in reality, my “wife” could have been anyone! I felt that it just smacked of a little charade to make everyone feel good about the decision, and in my opinion, would never accomplish the legal aim he claimed to be seeking! So hey! You singles out there who want a vasectomy – just get a female friend to go to the counseling appointment with you and you’ll probably get less hassle from the doc! Oh, sorry, I digress! Back to the story…

He then described the procedure and asked if I had any questions. Since I had compiled a lot of excellent info from this website, searches on via Google, and some other web searching, I was pretty prepared to ask him specific questions about his technique.

On the way there, I told my wife that if he said that he said that he would perform the (currently popular?) “fold and clip” vasectomy, I’d take my business elsewhere. I mean, I wanted snipping, removal of a section of each vas, and cauterization. I did not want something I’d do to a garden hose if I wanted to put the whirlybird sprinkler on the end. 🙂 Of course, this is just my NON-medical opinion. A “fold and clip” may be satisfactory, but I would not have felt comfortable with that route.

Anyway, I was extremely pleased with his answers to my questions (no “fold and clip”!) and we left his office and made an appointment for the snippage.

The snip

Fast-forward to the day of snip (a Friday). I was a little nervous, but I treated it as one of those “it’ll be over soon” kinda things. However, I still mentally prepared for a great deal of pain and discomfort.

My wife had to wait in the waiting room and I was asked to empty my bladder (in the lavatory, not the waiting room!) and go to the surgical room (it was like the original examining room, only a little bigger). Upon request, I stripped from the waist down and tossed a sterile sheet over my, um, parts. The doctor came in, had me adjust myself in the chair with the stirrups (like females use at the gynecologist office, I think), and he then stuck me with a “butterfly IV” containing a very mild sedative (Versed – sp?). The needle stick was minimally uncomfortable. However, I almost freaked out when I heard him say, “oops, I hit an artery.” He pulled the first IV out, got another, and found a better spot.

By now, my mind was reeling – what if he “hits an artery” during the vasectomy? Heck, if this guy can’t even administer a proper IV, is he going to slice off my, er, um, fireman? Ugh!!! Even though I contemplated leaping from the chair, I stayed put. The second IV seemed to go fine, so I figured I’d grant him this one “oops”. (Any more “oopses”, and I was out of there!)

Holding a spray bottle, he said, “this will be kind of cold and wet,” and proceeded to spray cold and wet Betadine all over my scrotum. Thanks to gravity, it dripped down toward my rear end, resulting in what I told him was a sensation I could honestly say I had never experienced before. (Perhaps I should have joined a fraternity while in college to prepare for such an event. )

The nurse person came in and helped him with instruments (they appeared to have been in a factory-sealed package, so I assumed they were sterile) and he draped cloths around my scrotum and clipped them in place with some hemostats from the package. They prepared a lidocaine anesthetic and he said, “this will sting a little,” and he jabbed the left side of my scrotum with the needle. For distraction purposes, I dug thumbnail into my index finger while they were loading the syringe and during the injection, so it didn’t seem terribly painful, but it still briefly stung.

He said he’d check to see if it was numb and I think he used some tweezer-like instrument to check. I told him that I did feel what he was doing a little bit, so he numbed me up a little more with additional anesthetic.

After that, and unbeknownst to me, he made a mid-line incision (about 1 cm in length?) near the top of my scrotum, fished around for my left vas deferens with a tiny pair of something that looked like pliers, and pulled it out for visibility. It was at this point that I realized I could mostly see what they were doing, so I peered down and saw the tube (there seemed to be some kind of red-colored sheath over the vas itself which he had “stripped” that back to reveal the vas). He had clamped the vas (which looked like a strand of spaghetti) in two places, about 1.5 cm apart. He snipped out about a 1 cm section and tossed it on the instrument tray.

He then used this electric cauterization tool that looked like a soldering iron and burned both ends of my freshly-cut vas. For some odd reason, he let the spark of the tool get close to my scrotum and I felt a very slight tingle, but the tingle stopped immediately thereafter.

He unclamped the cauterized ends and I think he shoved them back into my scrotum. He then numbed up the right side of my scrotum. I also felt this needle stick, but not as much as the first one and he repeated the same process on the right side. (Except for the errant scrotum shock). He sutured my scrotal tissue and then my scrotal skin and tossed the little snips of vasa into some sample jars, he said that they’re sent off to a lab for analysis.

He then offered his hand to help me up. I was thinking, “there’s no freakin’ way I’ll be able to stand up,” but voila – no problem! He told me to put my clothes back on and that I could clean the Betadine from my rear with some paper towels and water from the sink.

At this point, I was fully expecting to experience the most excruciating pain of my life and thinking how in the heck would I be able to wipe Betadine off my rear if my testicles were hanging down onto the floor?!, but amazingly, I felt no pain! I clumsily cleaned up for a few minutes, repositioned the piece of gauze over the incision, hiked up my sweatpants, and shuffled out of the room to the checkout area.

I spotted my wife and motioned for her to join me. The checkout person gave me some post-op instructions (although my wife had been given a printed sheet), the gist of which seemed to be rest, ice, Tylenol (acetaminophen), and elevated feet. We headed home, stopping to buy some gauze pads and Extra Strength Tylenol (I stayed in the car, thank you very much).

The recovery

To the best of my ability, I did everything the sheet said – wore underwear which supported my scrotum, elevated my feet, applied lots of ice packs. I used frozen peas, frozen carrots, and frozen green beans. I discarded them afterward, so you don’t have to worry if we ever invite you over for dinner. In the first 24 hours, took Tylenol every 4-6 hours, and changed the gauze pad each time I urinated (which was only a couple of times/day).

The minimal bleeding stopped after about 24 hours and at no time did I feel pain or anything less than some very mild tenderness. Although the tenderness was just based on a cursory evaluation from walking to/from the bathroom, as I didn’t have the guts to actually prod my testicles to see if they were truly tender.

The only aftereffects I observed were: a slightly elongated scrotum (as if someone had tugged down on it and it stayed that way), slightly bloodied incision/sutures, and a small bruise (about the size of a dime) right below the incision site. For me, the absolute worst part was not being able to shower for 48 hours! 🙂

Oh, the bruise on my arm from the artery IV poke hurt more than my scrotum did! About 4 days after the surgery, my scrotum returned to a relatively normal shape. The incision looked a little cleaner and the bruise got a bit smaller. The doctor told me to procrastinate – to put off doing anything that could set me back (heavy lifting, etc.) and I tried to follow that instruction to the letter!

I don’t know if this made a significant difference, but I started taking these sulfur-compound supplements (the stuff is called “MSM”) right after the bleeding stopped and I took about 4000mg daily for a week or so.

For about the first week, I couldn’t seriously think about sex or masturbation – just a little too scary at that point!

The next step, after 6-8 weeks, was to submit two semen samples. If both lack sperm, I’m in the clear!

Parting words

If you don’t understand something the doctor has mentioned, or that you’ve read or whatever, ASK! Don’t sit there like a fool, remaining silent, just because you’re talking about your genitals. Heck, they’re YOUR genitals – talk about them!

Here’s hoping yours was as uneventful (save for the sterilization part!) as mine!

Snippedly yours,

PS: It’s now been about 9 weeks and I just had sample #1 evaluated and it was clear (i.e., no sperm detected). We’ve been using alternate protection, as is required. I was told to bring back sample #2 in 1-2 weeks.

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