Ben’s vasectomy story: A Planned Parenthood vasectomy

I wanted to share the details of my recent vasectomy for the stories section. Mine is similar to other stories, though I am unique in that I pursued a free vas through the local Planned Parenthood, and am a recovering Sex Addict, which added some unexpected turns to surgical recovery.

3 months pre-surgery

My wife and I have three kids, and though I’d like to have more, she is sure she is done. She has horribly difficult pregnancies, throwing up 8 of the 9 months, several times a day. It’s not a fun time. We barely have sex during pregnancy, if at all. She also has really severe post-partum depression and admitted to common suicidal thoughts after each of the last two pregnancies. I’d like to have more kids because the idea of a larger family seems attractive, but the reality is that it would be too hard on my wife, and reduce the time we already spend with the three we have, which I feel like is never enough.

This whole experience has been complicated by the fact that I am a recovering sex addict. I have been in active recovery for two years now, and have started to overcome by bottom-line behaviors which were compulsive use of pornography and masturbation for hours on end or even all day long, and I’d even contemplated having a few affairs before I sought help. I had risked losing my job on many occasions and had started risking my family. When I disclosed to my wife that I was dealing with this addiction, our sex life came to a complete stand-still. She didn’t leave me, and we’ve been working on healing some of the pain I’ve caused, and she has admitted that eventually, we will become sexual again. Knowing that we’d become sexual, she decided that we should still move forward with the vasectomy that we have been planning. I agreed that it seemed rational.

Another major factor in her wanting to not have any more kids was during my disclosure that during all of her pregnancies (5 total, 2 ended in miscarriage) when she distanced herself from me sexually, I really went off the deep end on my addiction and was spending 10-12 hours a day acting out. She felt that avoiding another pregnancy would help me avoid another potential relapse. So vasectomy it is.

2 months pre-surgery

I don’t have traditional insurance. I have an HSA, which means I pay for the first several thousand dollars out of pocket for my health costs, and my insurance covers more catastrophic care events. I debated using savings to pay for a vasectomy from a “good doctor” and thought that I should at least check out what Planned Parenthood had to offer here locally. It turns out, that in my state (Oregon), Planned Parenthood operates using grants from Federal Title X funding, which offers free birth control services to low-income families. I had to earn less than 2x poverty level (for a family of 5, that’s less than $52k), and I get a free vasectomy if I’m willing to wait a full month after my consultation, to have the procedure. I make $45k, so I agreed and scheduled my consultation. (For what it is worth, they never asked me to document my income. I wonder if guys who are too cheap to pay for one, lie about their income level to get a free vasectomy!)

The consultation was with a Planned Parenthood doctor, who was not the one performing the actual procedures. She was knowledgeable about vasectomies, and ran me through all the usual counseling (10 minutes of questions), and seemed pleased that I already had three kids and was sure I wanted to proceed. She didn’t push hard for me to change my mind, nor did she push for the procedure. Once she asked if I had any questions, I barraged her with an assault of questions that she didn’t have any answers to. I asked her about scalpel vs. no-scalpel; open tubes vs. suturing vs. cauterization; experience level of the guy doing the cutting; medical students standing in, etc. She had no answers for me. She was unfamiliar with procedure specifics. This was complicated by the fact that they have a half dozen doctors from local private clinics that all-volunteer from time to time to do the vasectomies for the Planned Parenthood Clinic. Each doctor uses their own preferred methods, and she didn’t know which doctor I’d get, or what his level of experience would be. We finished the appointment, and I got a list of potential doctors and decided to check them out before setting my appointment. (I was told that I was the first guy this year who was picky enough to ask about the doctors and choose the one I wanted.)

While evaluating the doctors, nearly all of them were specialists in other areas. One was a General Practitioner, one was an OBGYN. Another guy had a website and didn’t even mention that he offered vasectomies in his private practice. And one, “Dr. F”, was a professor of Urology at the local university (OHSU), who specializes in vasectomy reversals, and has performed thousands of reversals and even more vasectomies. He has been named on the list of the best Urologists in America by a national survey of Urologists every year since 1996. Wow! I’ll take that guy! It turns out that getting a free vasectomy doesn’t mean inferior service. In fact, if I were to pick the one guy I’d trust to do this, and pay my own way in a private setting, this would be the guy I’d pick.

I scheduled my appointment for 2 months out on the date that I knew that Doctor F. would be working at Planned parenthood.

1 month pre-surgery

I put the procedure out of my mind for the most part. I read some stories now and then, but it seems like they just cause more apprehension. When I read the happy-go-lucky stories, they seem too good to be true. When I read the horror stories, they freak me out. I read enough to know about the concerns I ought to have, and things to avoid. And then focused on the rest of life.

1 week pre-surgery.

A lot of my free thought this week has been focused on this surgery. I’ve been consumed with a LOT of second-guessing. From a logical standpoint, I know that my wife and I won’t have more kids. I know that there is only about a 1 in 1 million chance that she may change her mind down the road, and so I’m OK with the permanence of this procedure. But, I’m also consumed with the other thoughts. What if my wife leaves me, or we get divorced, and I end up with another wife who wants to have more kids!? I investigated freezing sperm, just in case, but at several hundred dollars a year, it is outside my budget. I did find out you can have your dog’s sperm frozen for just $40 a year. Tell me how that is fair! I contemplated submitting a sample from my “dog” for freezing, and then let the idea go.

I also spent this week getting the things I’d need post-op. I normally wear semi-baggy boxer-briefs. So I went to the sporting good store and bought a few pairs of the Under Armor T-series Boxer Jock shorts. I bought a few different kinds. I’d recommend the HeatGear line. They aren’t any hotter or cooler. But, the fabric is thicker, which gives more support than the lighter, lycra-like materials they have in the O-Type shorts. I also found that the pairs I bought with a longer leg. (6-9″) were more supportive than the 3″ legged ones. Get 2 or 3 of those. They are just as supportive as a cup-style supporter, and way comfier.

I also bought several small bags of frozen peas, for icing my scrotum post-surgery. I made sure I had aspirin and Ibuprofen. I stocked up on some movies I wanted to see, got a new video game, and made sure I had several extra days free on my calendar if I had to take more days off work than necessary.

1 day pre-surgery

Having my consult 2 months ago, I couldn’t remember the pre-surgery instructions. I couldn’t find the papers they gave me which showed me what part of my scrotum I was supposed to shave, and what to bring. Oh, well. I decided to just shave it all. I tried pre-shaving with hair-clippers with a 1/4″ guard, which took quite a long time. Scrotum hair isn’t very tame, and it was really hard to cut. Plus I was really taking it slow because I didn’t want to cut something that wasn’t supposed to get cut (yet). I also shortly trimmed the pubes above my penis in case they decided to tape things down during the procedure.

Once all the trimming was done, I hopped in a warm bath to loosen things up, got out the Mach 3 razor, and got to shaving. The scrotum is difficult to shave. There aren’t many good angles to tug the skin at that allow you to get a razor flush against the skin, and even then you can’t press hard because even taut pulled skin doesn’t provide enough resistance for the razor to cut really closely. It is even harder when you have slippery shaving cream that keeps you from holding on to the skin very well. I ended up moving a testicle around under different parts of the scrotum, and using the testicle as a ‘back-stop” pressing the skin tight around it, and shaving that 1 or 2 square inches. Then scoot the testicle over some, and repeat. This took about 20 minutes for the whole scrotum. I washed up and noticed that there were a lot of nearly invisible wrinkles in my scrotum that had hidden missed hairs, and ended up going back and re-shaving the whole thing more carefully. Plus, the hair grows at all kinds of weird angles and isn’t uniform in grain-like other hair. Doing this in the bath was way easier, and more brightly lit, than it would be in the shower. If I could go back and do it again, I probably would have brought in a brighter light, or shop light, just so I could see what I was doing better. Even a mediocre assistant will be able to see things better than you can, all hunched over and a few feet away. If you have one willing, use her.

Day of Surgery

I had a family member drop me off at the clinic, and just a few minutes after arriving, a doctor met me and offered me an Ativan (Lorazepam). I didn’t feel very nervous, but took it anyway, just in case. The meds didn’t make me drowsy or feel glassy at all. I didn’t get nervous and don’t know if it was mostly due to drugs, or just my general comfort in medical settings.

I was 15 minutes early for my “appointment” and still ended up waiting quite a while. I was scheduled as one of the last procedures at the end of the day, and so I’m sure that a little bit of tight booking put the clinic way behind. I ended up waiting in the waiting room for nearly an hour and a half. I wasn’t too concerned, but my ride was a little miffed that she kept having to kill time. I’m so glad that I didn’t bring in the wife, or kids, like some of the other guys that were in front of me in line. Their kids were stir crazy after 10 minutes, and hellish after an hour. One guy commented that he was finally “sure” he wanted to go through with the procedure after his 2-year-old got in a screaming match with Mom.

I got led into an examination room, was given the last chance to pee, and they had me undress from the waist down and wrapped a warming blanket around my scrotum to loosen things up. I waited until the doctor finished in the other room with another patient, and came in. He was polite and cordial, started to give me a rundown of the procedure, and I quizzed him on some of the finer points. He told me that he sutures the vas closed, and I asked about open procedures and/or cauterization. He told me that the slight increase in the potential of pain from a granuloma is well worth the decrease in risk from an open procedure and its potential for failure. He mentioned he had had instances of an open vas failing and sperm getting into the scrotum, and he felt it was too risky. Like another poster here, I opted to go with what this guy, in all his training and experience, feels is best and is used to.

He told me he’d be using a scalpel but could make a very small incision. I asked if he ever used the scalpel-free technique, and he smiled, and said: “I’ve got to make a hole with something, would you rather have me use my teeth?” We laughed, and he told me that he could make a hole with a scalpel almost as small as a hemostat, and I’d be fine. By this time he had my scrotum in his hands and was given a local anesthetic, so I acquiesced. He also asked if I’d be comfortable having one of his students come in to observe the procedure. I agreed. He saw my Droid smartphone on the counter and asked if I wanted to film the procedure (which I thought was cool), but I declined, realizing it wouldn’t be something I’d want to share at any upcoming dinner party. We got on with it.

He did not tape down my penis to my skin, which made me pretty happy. He just laid it against my stomach and put a surgical blanket on it to keep it out of the way. Then there was some light tugging and moving and massaging things into the right place, some cutting and suturing, which I couldn’t feel at all, and the right side was done in about 5 minutes. He numbed up the left side but didn’t wait quite as long before cutting in. I could feel some dull pain and I could tell the doctor was having to maneuver things a little more to get it all done. I would say he was being ‘rougher’ on this site, but I could tell he was still moving gently and slowly and my tubes just weren’t cooperating. Maybe it was just that I could feel a little bit of it, and the anesthetic wasn’t quite as effective. I could have asked for them to use more, but the pain was pretty mild, kind of like flossing for the first time in a while, a little pain, but not enough to make you stop. The left side was done in about 10 minutes. The doc gave me a few minutes to rest as he put the tools away and explained that I’d have pain for a week or two. He also told me to expect to granulomas the size of grapes in my testicles where the vas was sutured. He helped me get on my UnderArmor Boxer Jocks and told me I was all done. I didn’t feel any pain walking out to the car, and had to remind myself that the anesthesia was masking the pain and to take it easy. I didn’t feel loopy or drugged at all, but my wife later commented that I must have been out of it because I repeatedly groped her when I got home. Maybe it was the drugs, who knows. 😉

I immediately settled into the couch, got a bag of frozen peas on my scrotum, and took one of the painkillers they prescribed, that I picked up on the way home. XYZ Hydrocodone. We gave strict warnings to the kids not to jump on Daddy, and I spent the rest of the day on the couch. I iced for 30 mins on, and 30 mins off, even though I didn’t really feel like I needed it, and kept it up for 6 hours. The pain started to wash in after about 5 hours, post-op. It was a dull ache, what I’d equate to the pain in your balls about 45 minutes after having them kicked. There’s no sharp pain, but the distinct reality that something has gone wrong and aches pretty deeply, coupled with about 1% of nausea. If you really want to know what it feels like, grab a testicle and squeeze it until it just barely starts to hurt. That’s the pain, but it just doesn’t go away. It wasn’t felt in the testicles, but instead all around the whole scrotal region, especially up at the top, near the base on the penis. Moving positions were uncomfortable, but I only winced a few times. I cycled my painkillers every 6 hours which would make the pain disappear entirely for about 4 hours.

I highly recommend sleeping with a fat pillow between your knees to keep your legs from squishing your sensitive areas for the next 3-4 weeks.

Day after Surgery

The pain when I woke up was pretty bad as the painkillers had worn off. I took the whole day completely off and did nothing but waddle to the bathroom and back to the couch. I iced (30 min on, 30 off) for most of the day, just because I was paranoid and wanted to keep swelling down. Due to the painkillers, I didn’t notice the ice causing any difference in pain levels but did it anyway. My scrotum was swollen overall about 20% over its normal size, especially at the top. Pushing on the swollen areas of my scrotum, about an inch below the base of my penis, was really painful. I couldn’t cross my legs if I wanted to. I was most comfortable sitting Indian-style all day.

I continued to take my meds, every 6 hours, and the pain would resurface about 4 hours after taking a painkiller. I probably could have worked if I had to, sitting at a desk or making phone calls; luckily, I can just sit at home and recover. I took lots of naps. Did nearly no walking. The pain could be managed without meds, but there is no sense in even minor suffering if meds are available.

The Week after Surgery

Friday was the surgery, and Saturday and Sunday were necessary recovery days. I could have gone back to work on Monday, but decided to take 2 more days off. Each day the pain lessened, and by Wednesday I wasn’t taking any more pain killers or even Advil. I could walk almost normally without limping, and on Monday went for a 2-mile walk with the family, which I did slowly. There wasn’t much pain but I had some substantial swelling afterward.

At this point, there are really only two things that are in pain. The end of the tubes that were cut has formed granulomas. They are about the size of small grapes, and are high up in the scrotum, almost at the base of my penis. They are extremely sensitive to touch, even more so than my testicles. They still have a dull ache; and when poked, or bumped, really hurt. The incision points on the scrotum are also painful. The stitches have fallen out, but there is still a tiny scar that is really painful when squeezed gently.

About a week after surgery I felt ready to try ejaculation. Since I’m recovering from sex addiction and masturbating would probably send me into relapse, it took a long and serious conversation with my wife to help her understand my expectations, and what has to be done before I can complete a fertility test. She agreed to get me off, and it went well. No reduction in pleasure or performance. There were a few times when she was stroking pretty long, and her hand grazed the scrotum at the base of my penis and impacted the granulomas causing some sharp pain, but it was manageable.

During this first week, I also returned to lifting weights. I had been doing a full body lifting routine 3x a week, and 6 days after surgery tried lifting again. All the upper body lifts went fine, and there wasn’t any limitation. I tried doing some light squats, and quickly gave up any hope of any lower bodywork. The most painful lift, which I quickly abandoned, was doing crunches (in a machine). The compression of the torso and the pressure on my legs just caused a lot of pain all over my groin area, which I’ve never had before. Deadlifts were also a little painful, and I decided not to do more than one, just in case.

Two Weeks after Surgery

Almost all the pain is gone. The granulomas and the vas they are attached to are still pretty sore and ache when touched, but there isn’t any noticeable pain with normal daily activities. When I cross my legs or sleep without a pillow between my knees, the pain starts to resurface. While weight lifting, I am now able to do some leg lifts, though crunches still cause enough pain in my scrotal-area, that I can’t do more than a few before I have to stop.

Three Weeks after Surgery

This week, I felt some sharp cramp-like pain that I can only imagine is pressure build-up in my prostatic vas. It feels like stomach cramps from bad gas, but down in my scrotum and inside my hip/groin area. It was on both sides and would last for several minutes, and then reduce in severity for a half-hour, and then hurt again pretty bad. It hurt so badly that I couldn’t think about much else, but not so bad that I flinched or winced during a business meeting I was in. I didn’t take any pain killers so I could accurately identify the pain. I tried to see if ejaculation would reduce or exacerbate the pain. It did neither. The pain eventually subsided after about a week.

Four Weeks after the Surgery

I’m back to 99% of normal. I’ve had no more pain, other than some minor aches when I bump something against my scrotum, or when I forget and cross my legs too aggressively. Other than that things are fine and normal. I wasn’t clear enough with my wife early on, and she isn’t very motivated to keep on schedule for the frequency of ejaculations the doctor recommended before the fertility test. (One test after 20 ejaculations and 12 weeks.) She’s been a little depressed and I feel guilty demanding sex, so I wish we would have discussed those expectations more clearly upfront, or even set up a formal schedule. I’m now able to my regular full body weight lifting routine, though I take it easy on the squats and crunches.

Six Weeks after Surgery

For the last few weeks, I’ve had a few times a day where I could identify definite pain. Usually, it is more of the cramp-type pain from what I can only imagine is my over-pressurized vas. I know the open-procedure is supposed to reduce this type of pain, but I didn’t get that type, and it’s too late now. It isn’t a bad pain, and I usually forget about it after a few minutes. I would say that I notice it 3-5 times a day for a few days. Then it is 100% gone for a few days. If I bump my granuloma too hard, (by crossing my legs; or getting a handjob) it will stay sore and hurt for a day or two. The scars from the incision on my scrotum are nearly invisible, but there is still a small palpable lump, and it hurts when squeezed. Other than that, I rarely remember that I’m probably infertile now. Still, 6 more weeks until I turn in my sample.

For what it is worth, if your lady asks you to keep your scrotum shaved, it only takes about 90 seconds every two or three days during a shower to keep it smooth. It is MUCH easier than the initial bushwhacking to get it shaved in the pre-surgery. Plus you don’t have to be quite as meticulous.

Seven weeks after Surgery

After a few attempts in previous weeks to do squats at a lighter than max weight, I returned to doing squats at the full weight in the gym this week with no adverse effects or pain. I’m sure you could get to it sooner than seven weeks if you wanted to, but I’m in no rush.

Eight-Nine weeks Post-op

In the last two weeks, I have had no pain. If it weren’t for the continually diminishing granulomas, I wouldn’t even know I’ve had the procedure. I have jogged in loose boxer-briefs with no pain. I have ridden a road bike (bicycle with a narrow hard seat) with no pain. I haven’t had any more of the “vas-cramping” that had plagued me the last few weeks. I’m weight lifting max weights again, including squats and crunches, with no problems. My wife has gotten a little rough from time to time enjoying my still shaved scrotum during sex and there isn’t any more than the normal ache from the testicles getting man-handled. I can cross my legs tightly without any pain or soreness.

The granulomas are just larger than the size of a pea. I can squeeze them gently with no pain, and they don’t bother me at all. The scars where the incisions were made are still barely visible, but I have to really search to find them. The scars are still tender when squeezed, though not terribly painful like before.

Sex (which right now still consists of mutual hand-jobs or occasional oral sex) isn’t as frequent as I’d like, and I’m wishing I had asked the doctor to write a prescription that called for sex twice a week until my test in week twelve. I’m sure he would have done it. My wife is off birth control (no more IUD), and since we have never been fans of condoms, haven’t used intercourse as part of our sexual repertoire post-surgery.

Twelve Weeks Post-op

Taking a sample was harder than I expected. I was given a bottle and told to get a sample at home and bring it in within an hour. I’d read it is easiest to lay down and out the cup under the penis during ejaculation. That didn’t seem to work for us, and so we instead went with me on all fours and her tugging straight down me like milking a cow. In the end, she just stuck the end of my penis right in the jar so there wasn’t any spilling or mess. I did have some performance anxiety, for probably the first time in a few years, so it took some extra time. Masturbating myself would have been easier.

Eight Months Post-Op

There haven’t been any negative residual effects of this procedure in the last 5 months. No pain, no scar, no unpleasantness, no remorse. I have zero remaining complications and zero worries. The only notable evidence that I have that the procedure was even done is my granulomas, which remain just smaller than pea-size. Even then, I doubt that anyone but a doctor could tell the difference, even with a substantial amount of prodding and squeezing. Even I struggle to find and identify my granulomas. I can squeeze them pretty hard before they start to hurt.

I am happily infertile now, and my sex life has regained normal frequency and status and my wife is pleased with the procedure as well. There hasn’t been any noticeable change to any part of my sex drive, control, ejaculation size or consistency, etc. Knowing there are horror stories out there makes me even more compelled to share my story since I’m sure that most guys with an uneventful procedure probably don’t share that things went off as expected.


Submitted by Ben

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