We know that vasectomy isn’t a favorite topic of conversation for most guys. Still, 3.1 million women in American rely on a partner’s vasectomy as their main form of birth control. So, it seems worthwhile to give the subject a little air time. The prospect of vasectomy might be particularly concerning for active men in the CrossFit or weightlifting world. How do you know if vasectomy is the right choice for you? Here are some of the questions we think you might have, answered by someone who’s been there, done that (with a little bit of hard data thrown in for good measure!):
First of all, why should I get a vasectomy instead of my partner using birth control?
Well for one thing, vasectomy is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy, and no one has to remember to take a pill or put on a condom (methods that are less effective anyways). Also, it’s a low-risk procedure that costs a whole lot less than a kid ($0 - $1000, depending on your insurance). If you’re sure you don’t want any more kids, vasectomy is a great option.
That's kind of a sensitive area (to say the least). Is the procedure going to hurt?
The idea of the procedure is worse than the actual procedure. Physical discomfort during the procedure is about the same as a getting a filling by a dentist; in other words, not that bad. To be honest, the procedure is probably more uncomfortable than painful, because men aren’t typically used to close examination of their genitalia.
Yeah, but what exactly is going to be happening down there during the procedure?
All right, here’s what happens in a nutshell:
We’re going to be straight with you. The worst part of getting a vasectomy? You need to shave your scrotum and surrounding area before the procedure. For most guys, this is way beyond everyday manscaping. If you’ve never shaved this particular area before, it might take longer than the procedure itself and if you’re not careful, it could hurt more, too. You could also make an appointment with a local esthetician and ask for a Brazilian wax, which will remove the hair from the entire area. It kind of depends on what freaks you out less – a sharp razor, or hot wax?
Once you’re in the doctor’s office, the prep for the procedure takes about five minutes. You’ll get undressed from the waist down and lay on the table with the paper gown covering you. The nurse will pull up the gown to expose your scrotum for the procedure, but will secure your penis so that it is safely out of the way (whew!). The nurse will then spray a frigid antiseptic on the area before the doctor begins. A local anesthetic will be administered so that you don’t feel anything during the procedure.
The Actual Procedure
The procedure itself takes just ten minutes or so. A small hole is cut in the scrotum. Then the doctor cuts the tube which carries semen from your testicle (the vas deferens). The vas deferens is sealed and the (very) small incision is closed. Now, when you ejaculate, the semen will no longer carry sperm.
During the procedure, you can listen to your favorite music or podcast to help you relax. Also, if you feel anxious about the process, your doc will prescribe 10mg of Valium to take before the procedure.
What's the healing process like?
You’ll probably need to take a full week off from work.
For the first two days, you’ll want to take Tylenol and use ice packs to reduce swelling and discomfort. Netflix also helps. This kind of procedure is what binge-watching was made for. You’ll be most comfortable lying flay on your back rather than sitting up or lying on your side, so get the television set up at an angle where you can see it when lying down. Also, wear a real jock strap for the first few days – it will help. We know it’s hard for active dads and CrossFitters to take it easy, but trust us, the healing will happen more quickly if you take your doc’s advice and take it easy.
How long before I can go back to physical activities, like CrossFit or playing soccer with my kids?
By the third or fourth day, you should be able to get up to do simple tasks around the house, like showering, preparing meals, or even taking a short walk around the block. After five or six days, you can expect to be about as active as an average person: running errands, going to the movie theater, taking the kids to karate, playing catch. If you start feeling sore, pull back a little from the physical activity and ice the area.
After seven days, you should be ready to do normal workouts, so long as you are not uncomfortable and haven’t experienced any complications. Be sure to wear a jock strap for the first few workouts to ensure you don’t cause any unnecessary jostling or bouncing that would cause pain. You really do need to give yourself the full seven days of recovery time before you start your workout routine again.
Don’t worry, one week isn’t long enough to lose the endurance or performance level you’ve gained – and periods of rests can actually be performance boosting for serious athletes.
What about sex?!
You are supposed to wait seven days before having sex, but seven days can seem like a really, really long time. It’s a good idea to ask your partner to read the aftercare instructions. That way, when you feel ready after three days, she can remind you that you still have four to go (bummer).
It’s also pretty important to note that you should use protection for at least the first thirty ejaculations after the procedure. Then, you’ll get a semen test to check the sperm count. After forty-five ejaculations, get a second semen test. Make sure your partner sees this information, too – doctor’s orders, after all!
Will a vasectomy affect my physical performance, either athletically or sexually?
Nope. Your performance should not be impacted in any negative way. In fact, a vasectomy might actually improve your sexual performance if you previously were concerned about pregnancy because that will no longer be a concern. You are now in recreation mode, not procreation mode – so have fun!
Any fine print?
Just take the rest seriously. As active CrossFitters and athletes, we want to rush and push our limits, but this is one area where a complication can cause real pain, discomfort, and additional procedures. Unless you want to be sidelined for weeks, you need to follow the orders to rest and ice.
What if I change my mind or meet someone else later in life? Is a vasectomy reversible?
Frankly, if you are asking this question, then don't do it. There is a reversal procedure, but it can take two to four hours (verses the ten minutes for the vasectomy), is expensive (up to $12,000!), and … it might not even work.
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