Saturday, October 17, 2009

On Getting a Vasectomy


[image: www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby]

I'm seriously considering getting a vasectomy. Yeah, I know...

To voluntarily allow a sharp, pointy object anywhere near Jack Jr. ranks right up there with looking inside Jeffrey Dahmer's refrigerator. And yet, here I am, googling the procedure like mad, trying to understand my options.

The benefits are clear. As someone who doesn't want children, having a vasectomy would largely eliminate any nasty surprises going forward. Plus, it would be wonderful to have the freedom to make love to my partner without fumbling for a condom, or relying on their own contraception method.

There are definitely some drawbacks. First, a vasectomy is not a sure thing. But WHAT is ever a sure thing? Also, it's not a procedure that can be easily reversed. On the other hand, there is nothing stopping me from freezing a batch of little Jacks in case the love of a wonderful woman happens to change my mind.

I have a lot to think about...

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do whatever you want, but I highly doubt you'll ever date a woman who wants to have children again if you get it. Even if you freeze your sperm the procedure the woman has to go through isn't great for her if she wants to get pregnant then. I'm thinking the second you tell her about the operation, she would split unless you waited for some reason to share this vital information until after she somehow fell in love with you and decided she couldn't live without you. That's not how life usually works.

But do what you want. That seems to have gotten you to where you are today, wherever that may be. But remember sometimes to understand the whole story you have to think about the potential other person's perspective.

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

I think you fail to understand where I am coming from. I am not interested in a women who wants kids. The only way I would ever have kids (apart from the possibility of an accident) is if the person I am with happens to change their mind after we start a relationship. Only then would I have a choice to make.

Anonymous said...

Whatever your priorities in life are, when you pick a person to share that life, you'll also want them to share those priorities. I'm kind of surprised by how many women I know who don't want children, so while you may be confining your options for life partners to a smaller pool, you're not doomed by any means.

But be prepared for the possibility that getting a vasectomy may not be as simple as you might expect. Doctors are often reluctant to perform sterilization procedures on either men or women who do not yet have children. We have a friend who had a vasectomy a couple of years ago. He's known for decades that he does not want children. At the time he had the procedure, he was 40. And he still had at least one doctor say that they weren't really willing to perform a vasectomy on someone that young.

So I'm not saying that you shouldn't have this procedure. But I am saying that you should be sure, and you should be committed--not just to the concept, and not just to being child-free, but to pursuing the process itself.

Anonymous said...

As sure as you may be right now, a vasectomy will require you to forego a change of heart. I realize the procedure could be reversed and that you could freeze your sperm, but for purposes of forethought, you should probably presume these things are impossible since they may be.

Do you really see yourself as that rigid a person? Has your heart never, ever changed?

I know the answer to these questions, because I've read your blog for a long time. Maybe you should read it too.

Rebecca Welch said...

Go for it!
People who don't want children shouldn't have to justify their lack of want.

Good luck with the snippy snap!

Helene said...

Vasectomy at your age; slightly nuts. Sex without a condom; totally nuts.

Fonk said...

I've already got 3 kids, and don't want any more, so have been thinking about getting one myself. I've been thinking for like two years, though, as I'm pretty much a coward when it comes to CUTTING things down there. Just haven't been able to get comfortable w/ the idea yet. I know it's unreasonable, as I've had several friends who have gotten one, and they all say it's no big deal. But stil....

Jolyn said...

I think anonymous has some valid points. Having this procedure is an expression of the heart. Having children can be very near and dear to a woman's heart. What if you met the perfect woman? Who happened to be dreaming of having children of her own someday?

Okay, so she may not be the "right" person if she is swayed by you having the procedure done. But what about your change of heart if you found someone you wanted to share the rest of your life with?

Chazu said...

One of the most miserable excuses for a man that I've ever met had a vasectomy. He's about 58 years old, is on his third mail-order bride (eastern european this time), and goes around looking down his nose at people with children. He belches insults and vitriol when he learns that someone is an expectant parent.

One of the most miserable excuses for a woman I've ever met said to me "You know what the best thing about your (newborn) son is? The fact that he's not at my house." She said that after overhearing me tell a colleague about my newborn baby as she was simply walking by my desk.

Overtly anti-child people are out of the gene pool for a reason, if you ask me. Darwin was right. Goodbye.

Anonymous said...

Just freeze the little fuckers and be done with it. Women who want children, WANT children.

Bette said...

Jack

I've been following your blog for a while, and right now you seem to be more of a planner than a doer - planning for your money, planning for not having children in the future (or planning to save sperm, just in case), planning a big bike trip to SA. Is "planning" your full-time job? I would go nuts having so many what if's and long-term goals in my life. Daily living and being can give one much happiness. As they say, maybe "you can't see the forest for the trees" and are missing out on real happiness right now.

If I recall from prior blogs, you are working toward finding long-term happiness? But you ever thought that all of this contemplating and planning is taking away from the time and happiness you have could have right now? (More of the "one day at a time theory.")

I wish you good luck with your decisions and pursuits, and of course, "happiness."

"Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."
-Nathaniel Hawthorne Bette

Charlie said...

I had mine at 32 and that was 10 years ago. Dr. had no problem performing it after a consultation with my wife and I even though we have no kids (also happily together for 22 years). You have to be true to yourself, and then your partner (if they are part of the decision in an active relationship), but you can't be a fortune teller as to what might happen and base your judgment on future "what if" scenarios. I did not want kids, my wife did not want kids, so any future consideration is moot about the potential dating pool. My choice was to not have kids and that is who I am and if I happen to ever date again that is part of the consideration for someone. I also won't date a smoker so that will limit my dating pool as well :)

By the way the process was easy and I don't quite understand some of the male reluctance. Women have to go through much worse on any given pap exam or mammogram than a vasectomy.

Krista said...

I agree with the commentor Nate to a point. But everyone is entitled to how they want to live there own lives. It would just suck to have an epiphany one day where you realize maybe a kid wasnt such a bad idea. My brother had it done when he was in his early 20's. He had 2 children by then and did not want anymore for personal and financial reasons. It took him a while to find a doctor that was willing to do the job. Most refused him because of his age and because they felt he should have at least 3 children ttl before considering it.

My husband entered our relationship with the same idea...no kids. For me the idea was there but it just wasnt a priority. Still isnt yet. But as the years go on the idea becomes more and more appealing to him...'just one though'.

I say give yourself time on this decision and wait until your 100% sure that kids are not an option in your life.

Sinead said...

Hey Jack,

I'm with Bette on this one. Way too much planning going on here.

I figure any decision e.g. kids or no kids, that you don't have to make today, shouldn't be on your to do list today.

Tell me, what did you do today? What are you hoping to do tomorrow?

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

I think the only reason I would counsel you against it is because it seems like this journey your on is all about expanding the possibilities for your life -- and look at where it's taken you. Five years ago, would you have guessed that you'd be sitting where you are right now?

It certainly seems like it's likely that you will be perfectly fulfilled without children and never go that route, but why make a permanent decision now? It seems like lately you've been in the mode of opening doors, but this would be closing a big one.

charmed said...

i say go for it, if that is what you want. i would get sterilized if i could find a doctor that would do it and if i could afford it. the first one isn't likely to happen since i don't have kids, and its a lot harder for women to have their tubes tied who don't have kids. some people know their whole lives they don't want kids, and not all child free people are rude and mean, so don't listen to anyone else just listen to yourself and decide what you want. people get really angry for some reason about the subject kids or no kids.

Jennifer @ livinginmycar.com said...

Do it. It's a very efficient method for getting rid of partners who feign indifference to the issue, thinking they will be able to change your mind later.

People who know they don't want kids, just know they don't want kids. People who want them will never understand.

Also, those sperm are still in there after you cut the vas, so you can get at them for IVF if you *really* want them later. (Of course, that does mean getting a chunk of your balls cut out.)

Jennifer @ livinginmycar.com, again said...

In response to Bette's comment about 'planning' I am going to guess Mr. Jack's Myers-Briggs temperament.

I think he is INTP.

He can't help over-analyzing.

Anonymous said...

This blog annoys me so much, but I can't stop reading it. It's like watching Cops.

I'm going to make this one anonymous. Ha ha.

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

“So I'm not saying that you shouldn't have this procedure. But I am saying that you should be sure, and you should be committed--not just to the concept, and not just to being child-free, but to pursuing the process itself.”

I think what you are saying is both wise and prudent. I think I'm taking that attitude.


@Anonymous,

“Do you really see yourself as that rigid a person? Has your heart never, ever changed? I know the answer to these questions, because I've read your blog for a long time. Maybe you should read it too.”

I think you bring up a good point. If I do have this procedure it is because I have thought about it enough to want to do it for the right reasons. I think I have grown enough as a person, particularly over the past couple of years to know what truly speaks to me. On the other hand, I think you are discounting the frozen sperm option all too quickly. It is most certainly a viable possibility and would only employ it as a failsafe, never as my primary means of procreation.

@Rebecca,

Still thinking about it. But yes, I agree that there shouldn't be a need to justify that decision.

Jack said...

@Helene,

“Vasectomy at your age; slightly nuts. Sex without a condom; totally nuts.”

Vasectomy when you are sure you don't want children; prudent. Sex without a condom with someone you love and where both of you have been tested; my definition of happiness.

@Fonk,
Dude, I hear ya. It's just a mind over matter thing. If I do get this done, I will just have to get over this.

@Jolyn,

Please see my subsequent responses to Anonymous as well as their own follow-up comment.

“What if you met the perfect woman? Who happened to be dreaming of having children of her own someday?”

By definition, the perfect woman for me won't want kids in the first place. The reason I am wrestling with this issue is because people can change their minds (me, her, etc...).

I understand your point. I really do. I just don't see how “final” this decision might be if my sperm is frozen to begin with. People who have trouble getting pregnant would have to go through a similar process.

Jack said...

@Chazu,

I feel like I came to this party late. Since when have people who have children and those who choose not to have kids been at each other's throats like this? Are you suggesting that I am a “miserable excuse for a man,” or is your comment directed at particularly nasty people on one side of this issue in the first place? Does my post offend you in some way? Is choosing to have kids somehow a challenge to your sense of wellbeing?

@Anonymous,

“Just freeze the little fuckers and be done with it. Women who want children, WANT children.”
Will do.

@Bette,

I absolutely LOVE your comment. Very insightful and definitely food for thought. On the one hand, you are absolutely right. I am very much a planner, list-maker, etc...Seeing the forest is always something I struggle to do. And while I am getting better, I am nowhere near where I want to be.

On the other hand, I don't think I could have accomplished what I have accomplished over the past couple of years if I hadn't taken an active role in my life; if I hadn't sat down on several occasions and articulated where I wanted to go and how, in practical terms, I could get there I would never have gotten anywhere.

As for the planning that is happening now, I would need to clarify a couple of things: (1) this is, in fact, a period of tons of planning. After my bike trip I traveled quite a bit and only now do I have the time, space and opportunity to plan out where I am heading going forward. I think the blog over the past month reflects that. (2) I am definitely enjoying my life in ways I never have. In simple terms. Promise. If I haven't blogged too much about that it's because I am laying the groundwork for discussion. (3) Many times I live my life without the need to blog about each and every wonderful, simple thing I am living on any given moment.

Jack said...

@Charlie,

“My choice was to not have kids and that is who I am and if I happen to ever date again that is part of the consideration for someone.”

That's how I feel. See my response above. I guess I will just have to get over my fear of sharp things if and when I get this procedure done. My compliments to you. Sounds like you considered things the right way.

@Krista,

Sorry but I don't know who you are referring to when you say “Nate.” But I do think you are presenting the most reasonable, workable way to deal with this type of decision.

@Sinead,

See my response to Bette. Found her comment very well thought out.

“Tell me, what did you do today? What are you hoping to do tomorrow?”

Just a quick list (hoping to do a Day in the Life Post soon): biked for three hours in small hills around town; long lunch with a friend; went shopping (was out of almost everything); talked to some people on the phone...pretty typical, simple and wonderful. Tomorrow I have a dance class and hopefully doing some yoga.

Jack said...

@Jennifer,

“It certainly seems like it's likely that you will be perfectly fulfilled without children and never go that route, but why make a permanent decision now? It seems like lately you've been in the mode of opening doors, but this would be closing a big one.”

I see your point and will take it to heart as I consider this whole issue. But I just don't see what the big deal is. If I ever feel like having a child, for whatever reason, I will always have a batch of stuff in a fridge ready to go.

@charmed,

“...some people know their whole lives they don't want kids, and not all child free people are rude and mean, so don't listen to anyone else just listen to yourself and decide what you want. people get really angry for some reason about the subject kids or no kids.”

Yeah, I'm beginning to understand that. It's weird. I really don't see why there needs to be an all or nothing attitude about this. Maybe people with kids feel that those who choose to go without somehow threaten their own choices, and vice-versa. All I know is that I don't want children. I'm not taking anyone else's choice away. Nor am I suggesting that to want kids is somehow illegitimate. Weird.

@Jennifer,

Wow, that sounds aweful! Let's hope it never has to get to that point.

Jay Bee said...

I agree with Rebecca Walsh; you should not have to justify your choice to anyone. (I haven't wanted children since I was 13 and that hasn't changed in more than 25 years).

and Helene is more than right - no glove no love! Too many deadly diseases. Be sure that both of you are truly disease free by testing in 6 month intervals, and by being absolutely monogomous.

Lisa said...

What I think is weird is how everyone assumes the default is or should be to want children. I just recently had a baby, and it turns out to be the best thing I've ever done. But while I wasn't dying to have kids, I had an almost complete certainty that I would have regrets later if I didn't. And children were important to my husband.

But if you know your mind, and know that the woman for you won't want kids, I don't see why you shouldn't eliminate the accidental pregnancy possibility. And should you change your mind down the road, you do have the option.

Anonymous said...

I know of several who had the big "V", and most regretted it.
Don't over estimate the strong feelings of true love. If you feel it, have it, most would want to create a beautiful baby with the love of their life, even if previously not wanting children.
I know of several who DID NOT want children, but oops!! it happened anyway, they never regretted it, and felt it was the best thing of their life.
I'm not saying this to change your mind, but you don't know what the future holds, people do change, and this is a very serious, and strong emotional matter.
Maybe wait until you meet the right person, are committed and then do it?

Anonymous said...

"Maybe people with kids feel that those who choose to go without somehow threaten their own choices, and vice-versa."

I'm sure that there are plenty of people who feel that someone else's different choice challenges their own. However, I have heard people on both sides say very negative, hurtful things about people on the other.

When, really, shouldn't everyone's goal be to make sure that children who are born are wanted?

I've always wanted children, and my husband and I have encountered a series of heartbreaks as we pursue that. But that has nothing to do with your choice, and your choice causes me no pain. How could it, when it has nothing to do with me?

I continue to be amazed and disheartened by people who think their choice is the only one.

Concojones said...

Thanks to the freezer backup, there's something to say for both options. So you could just go ahead and get it done.

One issue I see is that you may fall in love with someone who does want children, and you may gladly give in on the children front if she's really special. If you've gotten vasectomy by then, you can forget about her. This is especially an argument if your pool of women is limited, for instance if you're selective.

Danae said...

One other thing to consider: the freezer backup isn't exactly like pulling a pack of frozen tortellini out of the side-by-side. The sperm are less viable than fresh and, when combined with what might be subfertility of a partner (you never know- this is all about you never know, right?), you might not be able to use those little Jacks as you'd hoped.

Jack said...

@Jennifer,

Had not heard of the INTP category, but looking through the Wikepedia definition I can see why you would think so. And yes, the over-analyzing is a personal defect I'm trying to correct. :)

@Anonymous,

Don't forget the popcorn.

@Jay Bee,

I hear ya. Agree with both statements.

Jack said...

@Lisa,

“But if you know your mind, and know that the woman for you won't want kids, I don't see why you shouldn't eliminate the accidental pregnancy possibility. And should you change your mind down the road, you do have the option.”

Agreed. I really don't think this is as complicated as I thought originally.

@Anoymous,

“I'm not saying this to change your mind, but you don't know what the future holds, people do change, and this is a very serious, and strong emotional matter.
Maybe wait until you meet the right person, are committed and then do it?"

I see your point. And actually like the idea expressed in your last sentence. At this point, though, I find the benefits outweigh the negatives of the procedure. Why wait? Assuming freezing is a viable option I can have my cake and eat it too.

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

“When, really, shouldn't everyone's goal be to make sure that children who are born are wanted?...I continue to be amazed and disheartened by people who think their choice is the only one.”

Well put. That about sums it up for me as well.

@Concojones,

Believe me, that is a consideration. I just don't think I will be open to being with a person if they are intent on having children in the first place. But you are right. You just never know what life throws at you.

@Danae,

“One other thing to consider: the freezer backup isn't exactly like pulling a pack of frozen tortellini out of the side-by-side. The sperm are less viable than fresh and, when combined with what might be subfertility of a partner (you never know- this is all about you never know, right?), you might not be able to use those little Jacks as you'd hoped.”

Need to investigate that. That's a very good point. Just don't know enough about it to make a judgement.

Anonymous said...

Someone in the NYT Well column (about toxic parents) referenced this poem today:
http://www.artofeurope.com/larkin/lar2.htm

Anonymous said...

Don't know which you prefer, but I think this is an even better link ;)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qahT62n8tcA

Kady said...

I have kids and I still say you should do it.

I don't hear an ounce of doubt in what you write. The only reservation seems to be reflected doubt from what commenters here have said (and I'm assuming, maybe some people you know IRL).

The love thing is a total red herring. You are just as likely to fall madly in love w/ someone who doesn't want kids as you are w/ someone who does. So why should that influence your decision?

stanley said...

I don't know about this...

Anonymous said...

Do it! Part of the condition of my husband and I getting married was that he get snipped. He was almost 30 when he did it, I was 27.

I didn't want to hit 35 and suddenly give in to societal pressure to have kids, so this was a way of sealing the deal for both of us. And now he's almost 43, and I'm 40, and we have no regrets whatsoever.

There is soooooo much more to life than breeding.

Glenn Watson said...

I admit I see something selfish about married people not having kids. It just seems wrong to me.

It's like genetic suicide.

One thing is for sure. If smart people don't breed dumb ones surely will and that ain't good.

Anonymous said...

Would getting a vasectomy encourage you to have unprotected sex? there are more reasons than pregnancy to use a condom.

Lisa said...

Jack, my husband had a vasectomy 15 years ago, about nine months after we married (both in our mid-30s at the time), and despite all the people who assured us we would rue the day, we've never for a moment regretted it. Quite the contrary, it has been wonderfully freeing in all respects as we had each decided we didn't want children long before we met. For all intents and purposes, medically speaking, it IS a sure thing and you don't have to worry about accidents, but likewise don't count on an easy reversal if you think the road might lead you there someday.

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

That's a pretty cool poem:)

@Anonymous,

I think I prefer the youtube version.

@Kady,

“The love thing is a total red herring. You are just as likely to fall madly in love w/ someone who doesn't want kids as you are w/ someone who does. So why should that influence your decision?”

I think the argument might be that there are probably more people out there who do want children, so it's more likely that I could fall for someone who does want them. But I take your undelying point.

Jack said...

@Stanley,

Really?

@Anonymous,

Sound like you made the right decision for your family. Now, if I could find someone who is cool enough with this to make it work...

@Glenn,

“One thing is for sure. If smart people don't breed dumb ones surely will and that ain't good.”
That's a very good point.:) But that assumes that I am smart in the first place...

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

I don't think so, but that's a very good point.

@Lisa,

Interesting. Glad it worked out for you guys. The reversal might not be an issue with the freezing option but, that's subject to all the concerns voiced by other people above.

Ugly White Girls said...

I'm 28, got snipped at 25. The peace of mind it gives you is unimaginable.

There are no negatives, the options to still have kids are very doable. If you intend to be a bachelor for 10+ years from this point, it is worth it.

re: unhappy man with vasectomy, you should see the smile on MY face.

I want children one day. But the risks of having a children when you are not ready is not worth it. having a child before you are ready or with the wrong woman basically ends your life.

I carry car insurance, health insurance, homeowners insurance. This is happiness insurance.