I had a non-scapel procedure, which unlike traditional vasectomies, means that the scrotum is not cut open and no stitches are required. Instead, the surgeon makes a small hole in the skin of the scrotum to access the vas deferens (the tubes in which sperm travel from the testes), that are subsequently cut and sealed, to prevent future sperm from reaching the penis. No stitches? Sounds great. No scapel? Even better! No more children? Awesome!
I left my wife and children to enjoy a leisurely lunch while I headed across the street to the clinic. Before the operation could be performed, there was one final counseling session, to verify, once again, that I was happy to go ahead, and that I understood the possible side effects. I was aware of them, but in case you are not, here they there are for your reading pleasure:
- infection at the site of incision
- swelling and bruising
- sperm leaking from the vas deferens and forming lumps, called sperm granuloma (these lumps apparently fade away over time)
So, I signed the paperwork, and waited to be called into the room.
Pull your trousers down
I started to feel a little nervous, but told myself that in half an hour it would all be over. I was summoned into the room on time, and asked to pull my trousers down to my knees. Then I had to get onto the operating table and pull my underwear down just enough to expose my genitals. The surgeon placed a special sheet over me, which had a large circular hole in the middle of it; yes, you’ve guessed correctly, it provided the surgeon with perfect access to my scrotum.
First, he injected local anaesthetic. Having your scrotum injected hurts, in much the same way that getting stung by a wasp hurts, only the pain doesn’t linger very long due to the anaesthetic. Once that has kicked in, then comes the disconcerting sound of metal objects rattling around on a tray as the surgeon finds the tools he needs to start attacking my testicles. I forced myself to look at the ceiling, even though I instinctively wanted to glance down to see what was happening. The surgeon was standing on my right, his left arm hovering above my stomach as he worked. I could feel him pulling and moving my scrotum, but felt no pain. Apparently he had located the vas deferens, pulled enough of it out and then cut it.
Next he got out what was essentially a soldering iron, and the putrid smell of burning flesh filled the air as he sealed the vas deferens, blocking forever (hopefully) the flow of sperm from my testes to my penis. In an attempt to make this more comfortable for me, the nurse had switched on an air vent, to try to eliminate the pungent smell, but there’s only so much you can do; honestly, a quick spray of Febreze would have been better.
The other side
The surgeon quickly popped the now severed and sealed vas deferens back inside my scrotum, and then moved around the table, for I now had to endure the exact same procedure for a second time, on the other side of my scrotum. It was worse second time around, because I knew what was coming. The injection of anaesthetic felt somehow more painful, the smell of burning flesh seemed worse; I just wanted it all to be over with as soon as possible.
All over in 20 minutes
The whole thing only took twenty minutes (ten minutes for each side, you know, about the same as for a burnt steak). The surgeon placed some padding over the wounds, I carefully pulled up my underwear and trousers, and walked to the recovery room next door for a drink and some biscuits. So far, so good. When I felt ready, after about ten biscuits, I left the building and walked the short distance to meet my wife and children at our car.
The burning sensation began on the journey home; my balls were angry, and boy, it hurt. As soon as we got home, I went to bed and chucked a painkiller down my throat and an ice pack down my trousers (because chucking a painkiller down my trousers and an ice pack down my throat would just have been silly).
The burning pain eased, but over the next few days it was replaced with a dull ache; my scrotum was bruised, swollen, tender and uncomfortable, with two small scabs where the entry wounds were. I wore one-size-too-small underwear to keep everything in place, used the ice pack regularly, and tried not to move around too much. I went to see a doctor the following week, just to make sure everything was alright; he inspected my genitals and declared that it looked fine, but prescribed some stronger painkillers (thank you).
Four months later, I had to provide a semen sample. I was given a much larger than necessary tube in which to, erm, ejaculate my semen. Thankfully, I was expected to perform this task in the comfort of my own home rather than in some doctor’s waiting room. The tube had to go inside an even bigger tube, and then in an envelope. So I ejaculated, then calmly walked down the street and popped the envelope in the post box (don’t worry, I got dressed first).
A few weeks later I received a letter with the results; there was no sperm in my semen, the vasectomy had been a success. I would not be fathering anymore children, much to my relief. I never thought I would be happy about being labelled infertile, but when the alternative is the prospect of an unexpected third pregnancy, well, the lack of sperm is certainly something to celebrate.