Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vasectomy Saga: The Quest Begins

The decision to get a vasectomy should never be made lightly. Although the procedure is among the safest surgical procedures one can have performed, its results are permanent and can have an important effect on one's life. The decision to have children is also permanent but the implications for one's life are much more severe. Once sterilized, you can still adopt, foster, or buy a puppy to sate that damnable urge to procreate. On the other hand, it is quite difficult to rid yourself of a child once it has been birthed because post-natal abortions are sadly still illegal.

Before I get into the personal stuff, let me tell you a little bit about vasectomies. The procedure involves making a small incision in the scrotum and then severing the vas deferentia. The vas deferentia are the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra where they mingle with the seminal fluid before being ejaculated. Five hundred thousand vasectomies are performed every year in the United States. In Canada, the rate of couples who choose vasectomies over tubal ligations is twice as high as in the States. Vasectomies are the single most effective method of birth control available today (0.02-0.2% failure rate).

Why do I want to get a vasectomy? There are many answers to that question, but let me give you just a few. For starters, I simply don't want to have any children. I don't aspire to be a father and I never have. Even if I did eventually want to have children (which I won't), I'll adopt. I know it's not a simple process and I know that it takes years, but it would be worth it to go through that effort to save a child from the disastrous foster care system we have in this country. I would want to take care of a child who already exists, rather than needlessly creating more. Another reason that I want to have a vasectomy is so that I would no longer have to rely on my partner taking a pill every day to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. Jac is extremely responsible and reliable, but she isn't as reliable as a permanent solution like a vasectomy. Also, by not purchasing the pill, we would stop the constant flow of money to the for-profit pharmaceutical industry. I want to take control of my ability to reproduce, and for me, getting a vasectomy is by far the best option.

I recently began my quest for sterilization in earnest by going to my family doctor – a nervous, nebbish fellow – to ask for a referral to a testicular technician. I had done some research about getting a vasectomy at a young age, and I was ready for a struggle. Most doctors won't perform the procedure unless you've succeeded in living for at least 25 years or have already sired a sizable litter of man-pups. I don't fit either of those categories, but I fancy myself a persuasive sort of fellow, so I decided to give it the old college try.

To my surprise, Dr. Coodin didn't put up much of a fight at all. I think it might have had something to do with his discomfort with the subject of scrotal surgery, but he only asked a few short questions - “You're 23? Any kids?” - and agreed to send off my profile to a doctor who was more talented in the area of ball sack butchery than himself.

I selected Dr. Jason for my first attempt at achieving permanent baby-freedom because: 1) the name Dr. Jason connotes the sort of laid-back attitude that I'm looking for in a vasectomist. A guy with a first name for last name should be the same sort of guy who doesn't ask a lot of questions before performing semi-invasive surgery. And, 2) he had come highly recommended from my spouse's former spouse. Yes, you read that right. Jac's former common-law had a vasectomy done while they were together. She's a real black widow, that one.

It turns out that Dr. Jason isn't nearly as cool as his first-name-for-a-last-name name would suggest. When I gave him a call to discuss my eligibility, he went on an on about all the tragic sob stories he has been privy to, where men who got vasectomies too young soon lived to regret them or had to resort to multiple surgeries and huge medical bills (vasectomy reversals aren't covered under public health insurance) to get them reversed. What about all the sad stories of people getting pregnant when they weren't ready for the responsibility of having a child, I wanted to ask. But I held my tongue. This man was the gatekeeper to the land of prophylactic and pill-free bliss that I've always dreamed of. I had to prove to him that I am the most mature and thoughtful 23 year old in history and/or that I hate babies more than a crazed French woman.

The good doctor asked me very pointedly, “Do you travel a lot?” It's a question that doesn't really seem to have anything at all to do with vasectomies, but my mind raced to come up with the perfect answer to this potentially all important question. I guessed that Dr. Jason, like many other people, is annoyed by listening to babies cry on airplanes, so he doesn't want frequent fliers to spawn. “We want to switch back and forth between living in communes and living in the city,” I proclaimed proudly. It was a mostly honest answer, as Jac and I had tossed around that idea with some seriousness and I hoped it would meet the threshold for being too well-travelled to conceive. He then relayed to me a tale about a young military man who he gave a vasectomy to because he travelled so much that caring for a child would be impractical. Yes! Travelling lots is the right answer!

Alas, all the effort was all for nought. Dr. J said that if I was 19 months older he would love to stick sharp instruments into my nether-regions, but at this present time he would be unable to fulfil my wishes. I made him promise to refer me to another sterilization specialist and we bid each other adieu.

Stay tuned for the continuing vasectomy saga. This is only a temporary set back. My resolve has redoubled. I will have my infertility or I will die trying! Or maybe I'll just write a strongly worded blog entry about it.


Frequently asked vasectomy questions:

Description of most of the birth control methods available today:

Someone with a very similar perspective on vasectomies: