Once you’ve finally made the difficult decision to go ahead and get a vasectomy, the rest of the process seem pretty straightforward: make your appointment, stock up on frozen peas, and line up some shows to binge on Netflix while you recover. Easy peasy.
But many men and their partners discover that, despite the due diligence they perform prior to the sterilization procedure, they don’t always uncover every detail of the vasectomy experience: (The Good. The Bad. The Extremely Itchy.). Kind of like having a baby—ladies, you get it.
For writer Gabrielle Reid’s husband, those vasectomy surprises could be filed under The Small Stuff. “Things like shaving his pubic hair beforehand,” she writes in Motherly. “The awkwardness of a female nurse applying numbing cream before the anaesthetic.” She also shares that for her husband, the itching from his pubic hair growing back was way more irritating than the pain from the actual operation.
Initial regret—a kind of buyer’s remorse—set in for Brianna Bell for the first few weeks after her husband’s vasectomy, which left her with an overwhelming feeling of “dread,” she writes in SavvyMom. The couple had already had three kids by the time they were 28 (#fastworkers) and had decided together that a vasectomy was the right decision for their family. But that didn’t squelch Bell’s brewing remorse and feelings of depression over shutting down her baby-making factory. “I shed a few tears when I realized that I would never again experience pregnancy, realizing that this time in our lives had officially come to an end,” she says. A pregnancy scare following the vasectomy helped her realize she really didn’t want another baby after taking a pregnancy test. “That was the moment when I knew how much I never wanted to be pregnant ever again.”
What else might come as a surprise before, during and after a vasectomy? We came up with these 5 things:
- Your doctor expects 100% commitment. Many urologists really want to make sure—since a vasectomy is almost 100 percent effective—that you are absolutely positive you don’t want more (or any) children. In fact, if you’re under 30 and haven’t had kids yet, a lot of doctors might be hesitant to give you the snip. In a no-holds-barred article about his vasectomy experience, Allen Singer tells Cracked that one of the biggest surprises was that his doctor set his wife and him down to talk about sterilization procedures available to both of them. “Which is weird, because of the two permanent solutions, the vasectomy is by far the better option. While a guy theoretically doesn’t even have to be put under and it can all be wrapped up in half an hour, tube-tying is a major surgery that involves cutting a woman’s abdomen open.”
- Vasectomies can be painful. Let’s just get it out there right now: Getting a vasectomy is not like going for a Swedish massage or a foot rub. Although there are a bunch of different types of procedures to choose from, in all likelihood a doctor is going to stick a needle in your junk to numb it; afterwards, your whole package is going to be sore. There will be ice, blood, and maybe even pus (sorry). You’ll be uncomfortable for a couple of days and then you’ll be back taking out the garbage and picking up dog poop in the backyard.
But a small percentage of the approximately 500,000 men in the U.S. who get a vasectomy annually experience excruciating pain dubbed Post Vasectomy Pain Syndrome (PVPS), and it is no laughing matter. This type of chronic pain after vasectomy affects about 1 to 2 percent of men who undergo vasectomy procedures is thought to be the result of back pressure building up in the epididymis, which is exacerbated by ejaculation. Once properly diagnosed and infection is ruled out, PVPS can be treated either through injections of anesthetics or steroids or surgery, if necessary.
- Oops, I did it again. Do you know how many couples get pregnant after a vasectomy? Check the internet, because it seems like a lot. A 2004 survey suggests that there’s about 1 pregnancy per every 1,000 vasectomies. That makes vasectomies about 99.9 percent effective for preventing pregnancy. But here’s the catch: you need to wait about three months—or 20 ejaculations (roughly)—for all the sperm to work their way out. Before the coast is clear, you’ve got to use some kind of backup contraception or you’ll be sharing your I-never-thought-it-could-happen-to-me story on the internet too. An excellent way to dodge that bullet is by making sure your sperm count has dropped before having unprotected sex. SpermCheck is an over-the-counter kit that lets you test your sperm count quickly and easily at home, without the hassle of visiting a doctor’s office.
- Sex is still pretty sexy. A lot of couples secretly worry that a vasectomy will somehow alter a guy’s libido or ability to perform sexually. Reid reports in her Motherly piece that her husband is still excited to see her in the morning post vasectomy— even after suffering through a nasty stomach bug. And Audrey shares on Dayton Mom Blog that her husband, with whom she’d shared a “prolific sex life” prior to the procedure, would resent her if something had changed. “It really was a huge weight on my shoulders at that point! The night came and we were both nervous. And…absolutely nothing had changed for him! It was such a relief!”
- Free at last. Free at last. Probably the biggest surprise couples find post vasectomy is the joy in having worry-free sex. “It’s a new and exciting time in our marriage now that we are done having children,” says Bell. “Life post-vasectomy allows us to enjoy sex worry-free, and look forward to a future with older and more independent children.”
Whether you’re getting a vasectomy, buying a house or adopting a puppy, there’s always going to be things that jump up and surprise you. That’s life. The key is to do your research, manage your expectations, and take it all in stride. And there’s always ice cream and Netflix to help get you through the roughest patch.