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January 22, 2008 3:46 PM   Subscribe


 
Excellent post, j!
Refreshingly candid writing that covers all of my basic fears with the humor that I need to even THINK about it.
posted by Dizzy at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2008


You only posted this because it had this line in it:
THEY'RE GOING TO CUT A HOLE IN MY JOHNSON!!!
posted by grouse at 3:51 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


..
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:53 PM on January 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


VE ARE GOING TO CUT A HOLE IN YOUR JOHNSON, LEBOWSKI!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:54 PM on January 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


My husband said---about his V, "Meh, not so bad."
posted by hulahulagirl at 4:03 PM on January 22, 2008


Meh, not so bad

That's more than I can say for the writing in this self-indulgent, cliche-ridden article.
posted by dersins at 4:06 PM on January 22, 2008 [8 favorites]


Having had a cystoscopy once, I believe I can say this with some authority:

DO NOT WANT.
posted by danb at 4:07 PM on January 22, 2008


VE ARE GOING TO CUT A HOLE IN YOUR JOHNSON, LEBOWSKI!
1 user marked this as a favorite:
jonson January 22, 2008 7:10 PM


Eponysterical favorite!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:14 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah. Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.
posted by adamrice at 4:20 PM on January 22, 2008


Wimp.*




*Comment not meant in any way to criticize or cast aspersions on any male Mefite, vascectomied or not.
posted by jokeefe at 4:22 PM on January 22, 2008


getting a vasectomy was probably the single best thing I ever did for my sex life (haven't read the article)
posted by sineater at 4:23 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are men into whos hands I’ve placed, literally, my own life. There are people who I trust with the lives of my children. I trust my wife with the very disposition of my soul.

I can think of no one who I would allow to hold a razor sharp blade to my testicles.
Oh, I trust my wife not to cut my balls off, but it just goes against every reflex I’ve built up my entire life to allow a guy in a mask to wave a shiv at my boys without opening fire.

I will say though my dad not only got one, but got one in the old days when it was irreversable. And! got circumcised. And! went back to work. (Yes, I’m absolutely serious.)
Ok, I’m a big wimp.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm too young. They won't let me. I can drink, vote and die for my country, but I can't get my nuts cut. or rent a car.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:35 PM on January 22, 2008


let me be the first to say, OW MY BALLS and the nth to say, YA VE CUT OFF YOUR JOHNSON!

but... is your nutsack really your "johnson"? i always thought the johnson was more the franks and not the beans.
posted by joeblough at 4:36 PM on January 22, 2008


This is what you get when you start posting the results from your daily vanity search.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:39 PM on January 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:40 PM on January 22, 2008


From one who knows... this was a bit funny, but very shallow...

there's much more to it, physically, emotionally, and life changing..

35 years after having it done... I regret it....

If you have the opportunity, if someone is encouraging you, if you think you really want to do this...think again... the day will come that you will be sorry..

And, to be clear, the above has nothing to do with the quality, frequency, or fun of sex... it probably made that part better....

but.don't.do.it
posted by HuronBob at 4:43 PM on January 22, 2008


Childbirth is worse, guys.
posted by konolia at 4:48 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


That guy's a douchebag.
posted by zekinskia at 4:50 PM on January 22, 2008


From one who knows... this was kinda funny,

there's much more to it, physically, emotionally, and life changing..

35 years after having it done... I in no way regret it....

If you have the opportunity, if someone is encouraging you, if you think you really want to do this...think again... then do it, you won"t be sorry..

And, to be clear, the above has nothing to do with the quality, frequency, or fun of sex... it probably made that part better....

so.go.ahead.and.do.it

(Just another anecdote to add to the pile)
posted by Floydd at 4:55 PM on January 22, 2008


Re-reading. It needs ...something ...some sort of ....stimuli while reading the piece .... Ah, there we go
posted by Smedleyman at 5:02 PM on January 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


won't someone think of the childr... uh.. oh.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:04 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Would that editors cut as skilfully as our modern surgeons.
posted by Abiezer at 5:17 PM on January 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


What about the DIY method? NSFW and will probably disturb you for life. You've been warned.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:22 PM on January 22, 2008


Here's the thing about vasectomies: even if you've only got one testicle, it's still full price. It's just not fair!
posted by jepler at 5:23 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


The man doth protest too much, methinks.
posted by pombe at 5:24 PM on January 22, 2008


Aw crap, didn't notice adamrice's comment before I posted.
posted by pombe at 5:25 PM on January 22, 2008


Seriously, it's not so bad. It was painful for a few days, but after that, no problem at all, and it was nice to be waited on by my wife for a weekend (since I was making it unnecessary for her ever to take the pill again). And the sex is better, too.

And, btw, Smedleyman, I had mine done with a laser, so no blade of any kind was anywhere near my manly bits.
posted by cerebus19 at 5:34 PM on January 22, 2008


A laser, cerebus19?

"Do you expect me to talk?"

"No, Mr Nineteen. I expect you to die."
posted by notyou at 5:42 PM on January 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is totally insane and you won't believe me, but:

My Grandfather gave himself a vasectomy, when his family had gotten too big and he was struggling to make his way through Med school.
posted by freebird at 5:44 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


But seriously, cerebus19. Just a laser?

Didn't the surgeon need to make incisions to gain access to your vas?
posted by notyou at 5:45 PM on January 22, 2008


If you are thinking of having one, wait at least for the first wave of studies following this up, please.
posted by jamjam at 5:50 PM on January 22, 2008


Out of curiosity, a number of people have claimed that sex post-vasectomy is better. Can someone explain with a little more detail?
posted by mistersquid at 5:52 PM on January 22, 2008


Having had a vasectomy myself a number of years ago, I found this article hyperbolic and overblown. It took me a few minutes to even remember any details of my own experience that would be worthy to share. But I did remember this one:

When I was a sideshow performer, one of the stunts in my repertoire was inflating a hot water bottle with my lungs until it burst. Not long after I had my vasectomy, we were scheduled for a show in Portland. Suddenly it dawned on me that perhaps this stunt might compromise the integrity of my procedure. I called my doctor, hoping to speak to him directly due to the novel (and legitimate) nature of the question. Perhaps the Journal of Urology had published a woeful tale of post-vasectomy hot-water-bottle-inflation misadventure that he might recall... But of course this didn't happen, and the nurse perfunctorily told me not to perform the stunt.

Thankfully another member of our group, Tim "Torture King" Cridland, had practiced this stunt enough times so that he was able to do it instead of me for that particular show.

Vasectomy itself: not a big deal. But it is useful for a traveling sideshow to have a hot-water-bottle-inflating understudy...
posted by Tube at 5:55 PM on January 22, 2008 [14 favorites]


Yawn -- I don't get it. (Having strange, intrusive, uncomfortable medical procedures is pretty much a given for most women.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:55 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yawn -- I don't get it.

Well, you aren't expected to. You don't have the balls for it.
posted by notyou at 5:58 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's almost as though the author of this article has equated "Sperm" with "Being an adult male"! So weird.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 6:09 PM on January 22, 2008


It's about as traumatic as a baby tooth extraction. I don't know what the big deal is.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:10 PM on January 22, 2008


Having strange, intrusive, uncomfortable medical procedures is pretty much a given for most women

If you, say, hung your ovaries in a delicate skin sack outside of your body, I'd bet you'd feel a little different.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:10 PM on January 22, 2008


I'm with thehmsbeagle. I enjoy my genitals for the most part but certainly wouldn't feel like "less of a man" for shooting blanks. And for the sake of the planet would should make it mandatory after one child. Just think of the hand-wringing then.
posted by maxwelton at 6:24 PM on January 22, 2008


What about the DIY method? NSFW and will probably disturb you for life. You've been warned.

Damn it. I came in here to do that.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 6:31 PM on January 22, 2008


If you, say, hung your ovaries in a delicate skin sack outside of your body, I'd bet you'd feel a little different.

Not me. I'd vastly prefer that to a date with the dildo cam, which is just the pits.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:32 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


My husband's vasectomy was the one time in my life when sexual politics were turned backwards, so to speak. The doctor refused to perform the operation until he got my "okay" (harkening back to the days of my mother and grandmother who couldn't get their tubes tied without their husbands' permission). I think what concerned the doctor so much was that we were so young (my husband was 25 and I was 24), but we had made the vasectomy decision after a lot of thought. We had two children with major medical problems and we wanted to be able to devote our time and resources to their healthy upbringing without worrying about adding more children to the mix. It was the first really big "grown-up" decision of our marriage, and I don't think either one of us has ever regretted it.
posted by amyms at 6:41 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


mistersquid: Out of curiosity, a number of people have claimed that sex post-vasectomy is better. Can someone explain with a little more detail?

It's nothing physical, but just the fact that you no longer have any kind of nagging concerns about birth control. No wondering if she forgot her pill this week, or if those antibiotics she took three weeks ago could have screwed things up. No slightly tense 2-days-late situations. After vasectomy, sex is just sex -- no thoughts about procreation involved anymore.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:42 PM on January 22, 2008


35 years after having it done... I regret it....

35 years after having had a vasectomy, you want children? Have you picked up a new trophy wife, or something, HuronBob?
posted by Hildegarde at 6:43 PM on January 22, 2008


I had a No Scalpel Vasectomy (those are not my balls in the picture). It was painless, quick, took no time to recover from it, and have absolutely no regrets whatsoever, other than for not having done it a decade earlier.

If you've had your kids, or don't plan on having kids, getting a NSV is both smart and easy.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:46 PM on January 22, 2008


Maybe that site isn't the best one to link to for those thinking of getting vasectomies.

From five fresh fish's link:
Castration (the medical term is Bilateral Orchiectomy) is an effective alternative birth control method, produces a Zen like calmness over your life and it's been reported that castrated men generally live on average, 14 years longer than men who are not.
[...]
In the United States, about 150,000 men from all walks of life undergo this procedure every year.


And the site also has slides.
posted by Pyry at 7:13 PM on January 22, 2008


How complicated is it to reverse a vasectomy these days?
posted by puke & cry at 7:13 PM on January 22, 2008


I definitely agree that this article is whiny and annoying. My vasectomy was no big deal.

In his brief explanation before the surgery, the doctor said, "If you smell something burning during the procedure, don't worry; it's not you. I'm just cauterizing the wound." To which I thought: the hell it's not me burning!

Oh, and the post-op procedure was to 'clean the pipes' 15 times in the next 30 days, before dropping off a 'specimen' to ensure that all the remaining little guys were dead. What an awesome post-op procedure!
posted by tippiedog at 7:14 PM on January 22, 2008


Things could be worse...
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:14 PM on January 22, 2008


Oh, I almost forgot the best part. My procedure was done by Dr. Dick Chopp. I kid you not.
posted by tippiedog at 7:16 PM on January 22, 2008 [12 favorites]


I'll also add that I had a "traditional" scalpel vasectomy (no lazors or anything) and it was far less painful than I thought it would be. A few hours of dull ache (later that day) and two days of mild discomfort, and I'm a complete wuss when it comes to pain. If fear of blinding pain is your reason for not getting one guys, think again.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:17 PM on January 22, 2008


tippledog... I remember that. :)

"35 years after having had a vasectomy, you want children? Have you picked up a new trophy wife, or something, HuronBob?"

more complicated than that....

I had mine done when I was 23 years old... idiot Army Dr. never should have agreed to do it on someone that age....

Life changes, shit happens, the decision to not have kids at 23 was much different than how I looked at it at 40 (when my son died), or at 57 when I remarried...

There are less drastic methods of contraception....

thus my advice...don't do it... it really isn't necessary....
posted by HuronBob at 7:22 PM on January 22, 2008


tipple dog...heh... that beats the fact mine was done by Dr. Buck.
posted by HuronBob at 7:23 PM on January 22, 2008


the ability to have sex without fear of impregnation makes a vas deferens.
posted by bruce at 7:31 PM on January 22, 2008 [12 favorites]


konolia writes "Childbirth is worse, guys."

It's about relative pain. Women are way, way, way, tougher than men.

freebird writes "My Grandfather gave himself a vasectomy, when his family had gotten too big and he was struggling to make his way through Med school."

Have'n given myself four stitches with out any kind of anaesthetic I can totally see this as the operation pain isn't supposed to be all that bad post needle. I guess as long as you can see what's going on you'd be A-OK. Plus think of the confidence boost for all your vasectomy patients once you tell them your first operation was on yourself. I'd trust that Doc.
posted by Mitheral at 8:42 PM on January 22, 2008


worse than tubgirl...
posted by empath at 9:27 PM on January 22, 2008


With all due respect to the complexities of your life, HuronBob, your situation isn't universal and your implication that there is something intrinsically wrong with vasectomy is bullshit. It is the simplest and safest option that offers the lowest possibility of accidental conception.
posted by nanojath at 9:33 PM on January 22, 2008


so jonson, what do you do, search google for the term "johnson"?

wicked funny shit. eponysterical nightmare.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:38 PM on January 22, 2008


HuronBob, you're wrong. Or perhaps more correctly, it's your Y chromosome, and a million years of evolutionary imperative, that are wrong.

I'm sorry that you lost your son. But another child does not replace him, in any sense. And of males who have a vasectomy reversal (and if you're that forlorn about it, you should look into that, if you haven't already) every one - every single one - has been a male that has remarried and now desires to spread his seed anew.

It's a natural, instinctual, biological drive. But so are lots of other things. it doesn't make a whole lot of rational sense, now. I hope you can come to some terms with that.

And a professional vasectomy procedure, at worst, is mildly uncomfortable. Saying anything more is simply a journalist trying to get his 2000 words in before deadline.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:45 PM on January 22, 2008


Wow. That guy whined so much you'd think they castrated him with a pencil eraser.

Getting shaved? That's terrifying? Buddy, just wait until you finally make it to the outside world. Subways. Honking cars. Escalators. Fuck, man, germaniums! Look the fuck out!
posted by loquacious at 9:46 PM on January 22, 2008 [7 favorites]


I've never feared impregnation from sex. Thanks to the miracle of vasectomy, even straight guys can enjoy that feeling!

Trouble is, it seems to me only a reasonably intelligent guy would do such a thing. And those are the ones I'd prefer did the breeding.
posted by Goofyy at 9:51 PM on January 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


How complicated is it to reverse a vasectomy these days?

The longer it has been since the vasectomy took place, the less chance of a successful reversal. It's probably best to view it as an irreversible procedure when weighing the pros and cons.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:53 PM on January 22, 2008


I thought it was pretty common these days for guys to be offered a chance to freeze some sperm before a vasectomy. That seems like an easy way to hedge against the chance that the guy changes his mind about having kids sometime in the future.
posted by rhiannon at 9:56 PM on January 22, 2008


I was wondering about freezing sperm too but I don't know how long that would last.
posted by puke & cry at 10:05 PM on January 22, 2008


How complicated is it to reverse a vasectomy these days?

The chances have improved over time, it is still a more complicated and invasive operation than vasectomy itself, there is no guarantee it will work, and BrotherCaine is correct, the more time elapses after the operation, the worse the chances. Vasectomy should never be considered a reversible form of contraception.

According to this, sperm is viable up to 12 years, although it can be banked indefinitely. There are initial and ongoing (a couple or a few hundred dollars a year) for banked sperm.
posted by nanojath at 10:12 PM on January 22, 2008


Bora Horaz Gorbuchul: every single [vasectomy reversal] has been a male that has remarried and now desires to spread his seed anew.

Do you have a link or some other source for this? I'm finding the "every" part hard to believe.
posted by casarkos at 10:14 PM on January 22, 2008


I got mine with the express intent of committing to non-reproduction. That was twelve years ago, before we passed the six billion mark. I'm still convinced it was the right decision. The procedure and recovery involved less pain than a stubbed toe. I have no regrets at all.

Michael Lewis is apparently a total drama queen.
posted by flabdablet at 10:17 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


And rhiannon, it's not really that common to bank sperm as a hedge, though it is certainly done. In fact, if you bring it up with a doctor there is a decent chance they will try to dissuade you from getting vasectomy, because you chances of conception with banked sperm take a definite hit - conventional wisdom is that if you think there's any chance you will want to father biological children in the future, you should choose alternatives to vasectomy.
posted by nanojath at 10:22 PM on January 22, 2008


casarkos, apocryphal, I'm afraid: from vasectomy reversal surgeons I've talked to and articles I've read. I'll try to find statistics tomorrow, which I realise is not satisfying, and for which I apoligise.

And to clarify: are there couples who want another child after a death, and reverse a vasectomy to achieve that? I'm sure there are. But the numbers are so vanishingly small as to be insignificant compared to re-married males desiring the same procedure.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:34 PM on January 22, 2008


I'm too young. They won't let me. I can drink, vote and die for my country, but I can't get my nuts cut. or rent a car.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:35 PM on January 22


Baby_Balrog, that's not true, at least in the US. There is no minimum age for sterilization provided you are legally an adult (i.e., over 18). Any doctor that says you are too young, requires a psych evaluation, or asks for a spouse's approval is making up his or her own rules and is not someone you want to support.

See also here and here.
posted by Violet Hour at 10:39 PM on January 22, 2008


It never occurred to me to freeze some sperm. If, having booked the appointment to get clipped, you find yourself suddenly thinking you should bank some sperm, I think it'd be best you didn't get clipped. You're going to regret it.

Did I mention the no-scalpel method means there are no stitches? No down-to-skin shaving either, IIRC. It's a tiny, deep snip, snag the vas, clip-on miniscule clamps, snip between 'em, and Bob's your uncle! By that evening the wound has healed, though there's still fair physical knowledge that there's been trauma. Next morning, it's all cool. Shower, head to work, grunt in the warehouse.

It's bloody stupid there isn't a reversible, medical, male contraceptive by now. Or surgical procedure: maybe insert some sort of shunt, kind of like a vein's valving system. Something, for cripe's sakes: we're supposed to be in a modern millennium, aren't we?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 PM on January 22, 2008


Fuck, man, germaniums!

...roving gangs of gallium arsenides...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:46 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


For information about possible future male contraceptives, this is pretty comprehensive. Basically, we do have reversible, medical male contraceptives, but none of them have gotten approval for widespread use, getting bogged down in clinical trials instead. RISUG seems the most promising.
posted by Arturus at 10:52 PM on January 22, 2008


Anecdote: A college professor of mine had two kids, got a vasectomy, decided that God wanted him to have more kids, had it reversed, and now has somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen. So there's at least one person who's had a reversal without a death or new wife, and a very successful reversal it seems.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:51 AM on January 23, 2008


We can still call it navel gazing if the focus is a couple inches lower, right?
posted by JaredSeth at 3:11 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would have had one nearly a year ago, but about that time the information jamjam points to came to light and scared me off and good. My father has Alzheimer's, so doing anything that even may have a correlation to higher rates of dementia is very scary.
posted by Pliskie at 3:16 AM on January 23, 2008


I googled Michael Lewis, clicked on images, and this is the first thing that showed up.

These pictures somehow give the story a more well-developed perspective.

[Now, to go find out who Michael Lewis is...]
posted by humannaire at 4:07 AM on January 23, 2008


Oh, that Michael Lewis!
posted by humannaire at 4:10 AM on January 23, 2008


Bora... Like I said, it is way more complicated than that. My point in advising people NOT to have a procedure done that may very likely be irreversible, is simply the following (and especially true for anyone that elects this at a fairly young age): Leave your options open! Life frequently does not turn out as we anticipated.
posted by HuronBob at 4:12 AM on January 23, 2008


I had a No Scalpel Vasectomy (those are not my balls in the picture). It was painless, quick, took no time to recover from it, and have absolutely no regrets whatsoever, other than for not having done it a decade earlier.

FiveFreshFish, did you look at those pictures in that links?

I mean, wow. Castration...
posted by humannaire at 4:33 AM on January 23, 2008


I got mine at age 28 and the State of Florida and the Federal Government paid for it. Since it was through a welfare program, no doctors/nurses/bureaucrats tried to talk me out of it. A lot of friends and relatives did, though. Can you imagine if people regularly said the same things to a pregnant person that they say to a person about to undergo sterilization?

"Oh, if you change your mind it might be reversible."

Also...

Metafilter: those are not my balls in the picture.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:02 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but HuronBob, you're advice should more properly be: Don't have a vasectomy if you're really young, like in your early twenties! You're young and you'll change your mind!

The same advice does not apply to men in their 30s or 40s.
posted by poppo at 5:12 AM on January 23, 2008


poppo... I think that advice applies to anyone who may find themselves in a position in which their life has the possibility of taking a course completely unexpected.
posted by HuronBob at 5:27 AM on January 23, 2008


Yeah, but HuronBob, you're advice should more properly be: If you want a vasectomy, go have one! Your reproductive choices are your own and no one should project their own misgivings or regret on your decision!
posted by pieoverdone at 5:43 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


...roving gangs of gallium arsenides...

I'll have you know that this very misspelling actually woke me up in a cold sweat tonight. I was dreaming of geraniums. I remember doing (in my dreams) some sort of puzzled head-cock kind of thing, thinking about geraniums. I don't do that whole "puzzled/confused" gesture very often, so I remember feeling the oddness of the gesture. For some reason, I was counting the letters on my fingers, comparing the counts between germanium and geranium, like it was some kind of useful checksum.

Whatever. The unusually stern English teacher who resides in my forebrain was pestering my subconscious. In my sleep. Letting me know I made a huge, weird typo. Letting me know through my fucking dreams. Over one extra letter.

Then I woke up, shouting "FUCK! Geraniums!!" loud enough to startle myself as I was waking up, and briefly wondering why the fuck I was shouting about geraniums and thinking about germanium.

Then I remembered why, and came here to see exactly how many people were poking fun at my spelling.

Thankfully, I sleep alone and my roommates already think I'm crazy.
posted by loquacious at 5:57 AM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Actually, loquacious, geraniums are pretty scary.
posted by adamrice at 6:02 AM on January 23, 2008


I love my vasectomy.
posted by putzface_dickman at 6:17 AM on January 23, 2008


Then I remembered why, and came here to see exactly how many people were poking fun at my spelling.

For what it's worth, I don't so much poke fun at misspellings but revel in them if they lead somewhere good. Like germaniums. The idea of someone cowering with fear of rare semiconductors has much win.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:37 AM on January 23, 2008


No one?

Ok.


"We cut off your Lebowski, Johnson"
posted by fnord at 6:40 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Call me juvenile, but "Dr. Dick Chopp" is the funniest thing I've heard in a long time.
posted by stargell at 7:04 AM on January 23, 2008


The lulz part: The vasectomy didn't make him less of a man, but writing this article sure did.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:21 AM on January 23, 2008


Great thread - well done all for staving off the frank terror I expected to experience. A hug for HuronBob for bravely sharing, and special thanks to loquacious for the germaniums, even if they did bring back a bit of terror.
posted by Phanx at 7:28 AM on January 23, 2008


I read this and all I could think was, "What a weirdo." A traitor to his sex? Thinking he's becoming an "it" because he won't shoot sperm any more? Overly dramatic. It's a small, out-patient procedure that alters his body in a way he won't notice physically once he's healed. That is not so for ANY female contraception method, except maybe sterilization, and I've heard of women having hormonal problems after having that done.

There is no minimum age for sterilization provided you are legally an adult (i.e., over 18).

That might be the law, but I'm laughing thinking of the reality of it. I have known MANY women who were denied sterilization by multiple doctors because "they will want a baby someday." It's disgusting.
posted by agregoli at 8:45 AM on January 23, 2008


Neither I nor my wife want children, and I plan to get a vasectomy in the near future. I justify the irreversibility on the grounds that by any point at which I'm likely to change my mind, it should be possible to clone me from a fingernail clipping.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:47 AM on January 23, 2008


I don't want kids, so I just get blowjobs.
posted by BobFrapples at 9:10 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Huh. I'm not a guy, BobFrapples, but that sounds pretty boring.
posted by agregoli at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2008


My husband's vasectomy was the one time in my life when sexual politics were turned backwards, so to speak. The doctor refused to perform the operation until he got my "okay" (harkening back to the days of my mother and grandmother who couldn't get their tubes tied without their husbands' permission). I think what concerned the doctor so much was that we were so young (my husband was 25 and I was 24), but we had made the vasectomy decision after a lot of thought.

I agree that it's a strangely old-fashioned practice to be so commonplace. The sexual politics weren't really a reversal, though. Women couldn't get their tubes tied without their husband's permission because it would allow them to be unfaithful without the fear of pregnancy. Also, the menfolk should get to decide if they don't want heirs to continue on their family name. Women have to sign off on the husband's vasectomy because we consider a woman's desire for children to be innate and still pretty sacred. Both are about preserving the "intentions" of marriage.

I was the witness to a friend signing off on her husbands vasectomy, which was required to be a non-relative (!) Not only is this still required (in Philly, about seven years ago, not talking about little old country doctor here) but it was required that you drag friends into the decision, basically. Presumably to keep women from signing under pressure.
posted by desuetude at 9:55 AM on January 23, 2008


Strangely... the image of the exploding hot water bottle gives me the willies more than the idea of a scalpel or laser to my scrotum.

(My dad’s procedure was done by Caesar Romero...seriously. Doctor just happened to have the same name as the actor. He kept thinking the guy would pull off his mask and it would be the joker. Meh. At least it wasn’t Frank Gorshin. That riddler giggle during the procedure *shudder*)

“Childbirth is worse, guys.”

Well, yeah. But to be fair, women are, y’know, designed to give birth.
Men aren’t built to take a shot in the coin purse.

The opposite in fact. The male body is pretty utilitarian, no real services - can’t feed kids, bear them, etc, etc, pretty much built to lift heavy things and take physical punishment ...oh yeah, except for this huge mass of sensitive nerve fibers surrounding the ENTIRE male reproductive system which if damaged, means it's all over. Y’know, it's just bad engineering.

Perhaps the most sage comments I’ve heard on the matter is from Mel Brooks who said that the brain is more important than the gonads because it’s protected by the skull. Which is true.

Except I recently found out there are no pain sensing nerves in the brain, so if something bashes your brain, you don’t feel it.
In contrast, if a cold wind blows the wrong way your nuts make a beeline for your stomach.
So I think while the brain defense philosophy is more like a turtle's, the testicles' are more like rabbits' - hypersensitive and run like hell at the first sign of trouble.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:48 PM on January 23, 2008


(notyou - that Goldfinger reference made OJ shoot out my nose)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:23 PM on January 23, 2008


Well, yeah. But to be fair, women are, y’know, designed to give birth.
Men aren’t built to take a shot in the coin purse. ...this huge mass of sensitive nerve fibers surrounding the ENTIRE male reproductive system which if damaged, means it's all over. Y’know, it's just bad engineering.


It really is strange and hard to account for. I wonder if it's been selected for partly because it makes it so much easier for women and girls to deter rapists.
posted by jamjam at 2:34 PM on January 23, 2008


(notyou - that Goldfinger reference made OJ shoot out my nose)

I think that violates the terms of his parole.
posted by Tenuki at 2:47 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


jamjam, a simpler explanation would be that those nerve fibers are there to make sure men subconsciously protect their reproductive organs at any cost. Why are men's genitals on the outside? So that they can poke into women's genitals, which have to be on the inside for the babymaking to work.

Evolution does not favor a trait which, if your explanation were to be accurate, would result in fewer pregnancies.
posted by desuetude at 2:52 PM on January 23, 2008


I think of Michael Lewis as being a pretty smart guy, but that article was just so lame. It's like he's channeling a lame middlebrow Branson Missouri standup comic's take on vasectomy. It's like he doesn't know that he can still have sex afterward, and he doesn't list sex without worries as one of the benefits. Just this twerpy cliche-riddled "I'll be unmanned" stuff. What imaginary whitebread Slate reader does he even intend to be pandering to? I don't get it; he can't actually be that dense, can he?

(I mean, yes, there are lots of interesting questions raised by a decision like this, and yes it's scary in the moment before the doctor comes in to start a hard-to-reverse elective procedure. Certainly. Don't mean to minimize that. But this essay is just sooooo laaaame, doesn't really get into any of those more interesting questions.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why are there so many nerves near men's genitals?
So sex feels really good, and so injury to the genitals feels really bad.

Why are men's genitals on the outside?
So the sperm don't get killed by the body's heat.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:06 PM on January 23, 2008


Wow, loquacious, I thought you meant geraniums.

Now that's scary!

[Anyhow, it cracked me up: "Roving geraniums!" LARS!]
posted by humannaire at 3:37 PM on January 23, 2008


Why are men's genitals on the outside? So that they can poke into women's genitals, which have to be on the inside for the babymaking to work.

This is a good explanation for why the penis must be on the outside, at least during sex-- not the testicles, which are far more vulnerable and sensitive.

Evolution does not favor a trait which, if your explanation were to be accurate, would result in fewer pregnancies.

Do keep in mind that rape is very much a negative sum game, which may favor the genes of the rapist, but only at a greater cost to the genes of an interbreeding population as a whole than the rapist gains, including even the mother's. Injuries suffered during rape can compromise a female's fertility, and can make the prospect of sex so traumatic that sex is avoided in the future, which would also compromise fertility. Not only that, in a state of nature or in civilization, a child of rape would seem much more likely to be aborted, killed, or neglected. You might find it interesting to read accounts of the fate of the children born to the 10,000(?) or so Norwegian blonds the Nazis forced into a selective breeding program during WWII.

Why are men's genitals on the outside?
So the sperm don't get killed by the body's heat.


Dolphins have their testicles inside, where a special circulatory arrangement refrigerates them to the ideal temperature, although I'm not sure about that being necessary for the survival of the sperm, which are stored in an internal organ, the prostate, for a considerable period of time without losing viability, and which must fulfill their purpose inside another set of internal organs where they remain viable for days-- or longer, if conditions are right.
posted by jamjam at 3:46 PM on January 23, 2008


“Childbirth is worse, guys.”
Well, yeah. But to be fair, women are, y’know, designed to give birth.


Isn't there this whole series of recent articles about how women's bodies are actually poorly designed for childbirth?

As to the dolphins, now I have strange mens-rights-y slogans in my mind -- Demand Special Circulatory Refrigeration Now!
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:55 PM on January 23, 2008


Is balls-outside a general mammalian thing? I know squirrels also have dangly bits, and so do bulls. Seems to me dogs and rats tend to have 'em very close in.

Seems like a very dumb evolutionary trait. Never been able to figure it out.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:02 PM on January 23, 2008


There is no minimum age for sterilization provided you are legally an adult (i.e., over 18).

That might be the law, but I'm laughing thinking of the reality of it. I have known MANY women who were denied sterilization by multiple doctors because "they will want a baby someday." It's disgusting.
posted by agregoli at 8:45 AM on January 23 [+] [!]


I know, but many people seem to be under the false assumption that there is actually a law or health regulation that prevents sterilization unless one meets age or parity criteria, so they don't even try. My point was that it's just physicians pulling bullshit out of their own personal hats.

The reality that it can be difficult to find a doctor if you are young and childfree is why I provided a link to a list of supportive doctors recommended by others in that situation.
posted by Violet Hour at 11:39 PM on January 23, 2008


Sure, a vasectomy is irreversible. But, you know, so is having a kid. And I'd rather not risk having that be something I regret and resent.

I've had a vasectomy. If I ever lose change my mind, then I'll adopt, thanks.
posted by webmutant at 2:14 PM on January 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yay webmutant!

Foster care is another good option for people wanting to raise kids without actually making more.
posted by flabdablet at 4:29 PM on January 25, 2008


physicians pulling bullshit out of their own personal hats

While I don't doubt that there is some patriarchal bullshit involved in some physician refusals to do vasectomies, I suspect the more common reason is the number of patients who regret the procedure and come back with a lawsuit.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:53 AM on January 27, 2008


BrotherCaine, can you find even one case where a doctor was successfully sued by someone just because they later changed their mind? I can find no evidence of even an attempt. There's a reason why patients have to sign consent forms.

I can, however, find cases where doctors were sued when a pregnancy occurs after sterilization.
posted by Violet Hour at 10:31 PM on January 27, 2008


Violet Hour, that's what I don't understand. I've heard reports of doctors who refuse to do sterilization because of this fear of being sued - however, I wonder the same thing about consent forms. It's not like a patient wouldn't know what they were doing.
posted by agregoli at 7:20 AM on January 29, 2008


No, I can't, but one doesn't have to be successfully sued to regard the risk as a nuisance best avoided.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:26 AM on February 5, 2008


Come on, that's ridiculous. No one has ever been sued for changing their mind after consensual sterilization, yet doctors are terrified of the very possibility? Obstetricians are the ones who have the highest rates of malpractice suits filed against them, so much so that many of them are abandoning the practice of delivering babies. If anything, sterilization would reduce malpractice suits.
posted by Violet Hour at 4:22 PM on February 5, 2008


I agree - it is ridiculous.
posted by agregoli at 6:12 AM on February 6, 2008


Any settlement made in a lawsuit usually includes a confidentiality agreement. No medical insurance company or doctor is going to want it bandied about that they agreed to pay off on a claim. Just because I can't find a cite doesn't mean no one's been sued. I'm not a legal or medical scholar, and have no access to the journals that track these things. The few hits I found, I couldn't even pull up the abstract without a subscription.

What I did find was this blurb on a law firm's page that claims female sterilization is the second most common area in which gynecologists and obstetricians are sued. Most commonly for failed sterilization, followed by bowel or urinary tract injuries, but also for not obtaining informed consent for the procedure.

I agree that sterilization should be easy to obtain, but I think the problem is a deeply rooted in our culture's bizarre expectation that reproduction is somehow necessary or noble. I'm not sure I can blame the doctors as long as sterilization is viewed as a strictly elective procedure, instead of as an essential part of our mental and sexual health.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:08 AM on February 6, 2008


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