Men in the US typically do not talk about or worry about birth control that much, to the detriment of the health and safety of women. In the spirit of trying to change that a little, I’m going to talk to you about my experience. About a decade ago, knowing that I did not want to have any more children, I had a vasectomy. And let me tell you, it’s been great. Quickly, here’s what a vasectomy is, via the Mayo Clinic:
Vasectomy is a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to your semen. It’s done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. Vasectomy has a low risk of problems and can usually be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia.
Whether you’re in a committed relationship or a more casual one, knowing that you’re rolling up to sexual encounters with the birth control handled is a really good feeling for everyone concerned.1 Women have typically (and unfairly) had to be the responsible ones about birth control, in large part because it’s ultimately their body, health, and well-being that’s on the line if a sexual act results in pregnancy, but there are benefits of birth control that accrue to both parties (and to society) and taking over that important responsibility from your sexual partner is way more than equitable.
(Here’s the part where I need to come clean: getting a vasectomy was not my idea. I had to be talked into it. It seemed scary and birth control was not something I thought about as much as I should have. I’m ashamed of this; I wish I’d been more proactive and taken more responsibility about it. Guys, we should be talking about and thinking about this shit just as much as women do! I hope you’ve figured this out earlier than I did. Ok, back to the matter at hand.)
Vasectomies are often covered by health insurance and are (somewhat) reversible. These issues can be legitimate dealbreakers for some people. Some folks cannot afford the cost of the procedure or can’t take the necessary time off of work to recover (heavy lifting is verboten for a few days afterwards). And if you get a vasectomy in your 20s for the purpose of 10-15 years of birth control before deciding to start a family, the lack of guarantee around reversal might be unappealing. Talk to your doctor, insurance company, and place of employment about these concerns!
Does the procedure hurt? This is a concern that many men have and the answer is yes: it hurts a little bit during and for a few days afterwards. For most people, you’re in and out in an hour or two, you ice your crotch, pop some Advil, take it easy for a few days, and you’re good to go.1 It’s a small price to pay and honestly if you don’t want to get a vasectomy because you’re worried about your balls aching for 48 hours, I’m going to suggest that you are a whiny little baby — and I’m telling you this as someone who is quite uncomfortable and sometimes faints during even routine medical procedures.
So, if you’re a sperm-producing person who has sex with people who can get pregnant and do not wish for pregnancy to occur, you should consider getting a vasectomy. It’s a minor procedure with few side effects that results in an almost iron-clad guarantee against unwanted pregnancy. At the very least, know that this is an option you have and that you can talk to your partner and doctor about it. Good luck!
Just to be clear, you still have to worry about sexually transmitted infections — a vasectomy obviously does not provide any protection against that.↩
There also is a follow-up about 6-12 weeks later to make sure the procedure worked. You masturbate into a cup and they check to see that there’s no sperm in the sample. Part of this follow-up, if my experience is any guide, includes checking that the doctor’s office bathroom door is locked about 50 times while watching very outdated porn on a small TV mounted up in the corner of the tiny room. It’s fine though! And you have a fun story to tell later.↩