Editor’s note: This is a guest post from an author who would prefer to remain anonymous.
It will feel like ferret-legging.
Not that you’ve ever actually ferret-legged. But you have heard rumors about the strange barbarian sport that’s popular among old English coal miners.
In ferret-legging, you’ll remember, two wild and vicious weasel-like animals—carnivores with teeth as sharp as piranhas—are inserted down your pant legs, which are tied at the bottom. You pull your belt snug around your waist and proceed to stand still for as long as able while the animals unleash a frenzy of damnation inside.
No underwear is allowed in ferret-legging. No jockstraps, certainly not. The whiter the pants, the better, say contestants, because that way fans can see the blood.
“Aye, the ferrets must have a full mouth ‘o teeth,” insisted ferret-legging champion Reg Mellor in Outside magazine. “No filing of the teeth; no clipping. And ye must be sober. Why, I’ve had ‘em hanging off me tool for hours.”
That, you will realize, is what it truly feels like to get a vasectomy, and what follows in this article is one of the few declarations of truth you will ever hear.
How can you be sure? Because if other men told the truth, then none of the 500,000+ dudes worldwide each year who elect to have this procedure would ever follow through.
Try this experiment. Ask a buddy who’s had the snip, and see what he says. Chances are, he’ll straighten up like John Wayne and shrug nonchalantly:
“Uh, it felt about as uncomfortable as going to the dentist to get a tooth filled,” he’ll utter with a nervous swagger. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Drove myself home afterward. Went for a 10-mile jog later that afternoon. And that night I had sex with my wife—” Here, he will fail to look you in the eye and add, “five times.”
As a man, you tend to minimize your declarations of pain. Somehow it feels manlier that way. But is it truly helpful to anyone seeking advice if you do?
In addition to this article, the closest thing to the truth you will ever encounter will come from an unlikely source. Perhaps from the guy who fixes your water heater. He will be a levelheaded fellow, muscle-bound, bearded and brawny, and you will stand in your garage and talk about motorbikes and football before you tell each other how many kids you have and the topic is broached.
He will glance your direction with a flint-like face and mutter, “Getting a vasectomy was singularly the most unpleasant experience of my life.”
Oh sure, you can Google around and learn plenty of cold clinical facts. How it’s done. What part of the body is cut. How you must be absolutely certain you want it done, because it’s dang hard afterward to get the procedure reversed.
But where else except the Art of Manliness will you find a straight-shooting brotherhood to genuinely walk through this journey of uneasiness with you?
Here’s what will happen:
Beforehand, you may feel a twinge of melancholy—a genuine emotion you need to work through. Something permanent and irreversible will be done to your body, something that marks the passage of years. No longer will you be in the child-procreating season of life. No longer will you be a young and fertile buck.
What helps is to consider how you are doing it for your wife’s sake, whom you love dearly. Up to this point, she has borne the brunt of the physical hardships when it comes to having children. Now it’s your turn to take one for the team.
You will remind yourself of your nobility on the day of your procedure when you lie on your back on a gurney in your doctor’s office. You will be unclothed from the waist down.
They will tape your John Thomas upward with a stretch of sticky tape to keep it out of the way, curtain off your luggage top and bottom so only the important bits show, then swab you with that cold, colored liquid that sanitizes everything.
Around your Manchester, you will be shaved and hairless, like a newborn rabbit.
Then come the needles. You will feel these. First the left side. Then the right. Although, it might be more needles than two. You won’t be looking, and, once numb, it will feel difficult to tell the exact quantity. The numbing agent will spread throughout your groin.
Then the good doctor will repeatedly reach for and grab the area of your body you are traditionally most protective of. You will frequently fight the urge to wince. You will feel transported back to fourth grade when a dodge ball was aimed at your privates and scored a direct hit.
You will be awake through all of this. You can get sedated if you want. You will choose to be a man.
You will feel uncharacteristically chatty throughout the procedure, and the doctor and you will keep up a running dialogue. The whole atmosphere will feel lighter that way. He will narrate most of what he’s doing, and in between you will talk about family planning in general and the merits of a Honda minivan over a Chrysler or Dodge.
The doctor will find the tubes, the vas deferens, the tiny ducts that connect the testes with the urethra, and he will isolate each one to make sure he cuts cleanly. Outside the body, these tubes will look identical to thin spaghetti noodles, white and floppy.
You will know this because once the procedure is over he will show you the two sections he cut away. Each section will be about the width of an index finger. He will send small specimens to the lab “just to ensure we actually got the right tubes,” he will say. You will not find this thought reassuring.
After he cuts the tubes, he will probably cauterize each dangling end. The cauterizing—you will both hear this as a sizzle as well as smell it. It won’t be smoky like a barbecue, but just tart and confusing. It will be the whiff of a kind of burning you’ve never smelled before. Ah yes, you will realize. It’s me on fire down there.
After the cauterizing, he will probably install two tiny titanium clamps on each end of each cut tube. He will show you a clamp first—these are quite common these days, and they will act as yet one more layer of reassurance. Each clamp is about the size of a grain of rice, except skinnier, and the clamps stay inside a man forever. They will show up on X-rays, he says, but won’t set off airport metal detectors.
You will not like the idea of pieces of metal being inside of you forever, yet somehow you will feel okay about these clamps. The whole point of a vasectomy is that you want the job done right. You want effectiveness. You want cauterization. You want titanium clamps inside your avocado.
“It’s because 100 percent effectiveness isn’t always the case with a vasectomy,” the doctor adds, a might forlornly. He will quote you statistics, which you will forget. But you will remember the general lack of guarantee. This lack of surety will not seem good enough for you, but you will keep your mouth shut. With your pants off and your genitals smoking, you will be in no position to raise a fuss.
There will be no stitches afterward. The loose skin will close fine on its own.
There will be no bandages either. Just a wad of gauze to be held in place by the tighty-whities you will wear on the way out. No boxers will be worn. Definitely no boxers.
And then it will be over.
You will be given a list of dos and don’ts. No heavy lifting for 10 days. No big movement for at least 3. You will be given prescriptions for Vicodin and Ibuprofen and shown the door.
“Thank you doctor; you’re a good man,” you will say, and you will be tempted to shake his hand. But this will feel inappropriate considering where his hands have just been.
Your wife will drive you home, and you will be thankful you are not behind the wheel. You will recline the seat of your car and close your eyes. It’s helpful, they say, to have this procedure done on a Friday afternoon. That way you can lie around all weekend watching every Clint Eastwood movie ever made.
At home, you will get up and walk, sure. You will be able to move around. But you will not be going for any 10-mile runs soon. You can go back to work on Monday, but it will be several days—perhaps weeks—before you feel totally better down there.
At home, immediately after the procedure, you will hobble upstairs to the bedroom, lie down, and email your best friend from your high school days, who’s had this procedure done already.
The subject line will read: “I got my bag of peanuts.”
Inside the email, you will quip one line. “Actually, I’ve got a bag of peas on my nuts.”
You and he will both know the truth. Every man will want a frozen and flexible bag of vegetables on this most tender area.
Even the liars.
If you’ve got a vasectomy story, let’s hear it. We feel your pain.