Should you get a vasectomy?

A big decision.

Getting a vasectomy is a big decision for several reasons.


Most significantly, in the vast majority of cases – rare reversals aside – it means your family is done growing for good.


For a lot of men, there’s a fear factor as well. Making any kind of adjustment ‘down there’ (*suspenseful music plays in the background*) … raises a lot of questions.


Let’s walk through the process with some families that have made the decision to go ahead – including mine.


The decision


For my wife and I, this was an easy one. Happy with our two boys and unmoved by other birth control options, this was the fastest, safest and most cost-effective option.


Similarly, Paul Fortier, a 38-year-old Ottawa dad who had the procedure done a year ago, wasn’t enamoured with the logistical challenges that come with having a family of five.


“We talked about it quite a bit,” he said. “My wife had gone through a caesarean, so the recovery was pretty intense for her. I had a few close friends of mine who had gone through the procedure and mentioned how the recovery time was far quicker than if my wife had opted for surgery.”


For Amanda Burns and her husband Phil, who live in Kanata, other forms of birth control weren’t appealing.


“I wasn’t able to do hormones, birth control, because I get migraines,” she said. “We had barrier options, and… it wasn’t helping our relationship. We didn’t enjoy using condoms basically. It didn’t make sense, we’re married, so yeah, we decided to go ahead.”


The procedure


I imagine getting a vasectomy back in the day would have been a lot more terrifying, given the needles and scalpels involved. Nowadays, most vasectomies in the capital are performed without either, thus vastly reducing recovery time (Ottawa is home to a pioneer in the craft, Dr. Ronald Weiss).


A “freezing” technique called jet injection uses air to numb the area, and a special tool makes a tiny hole so that the doctor can cut and cauterize the vas deferens. Everything gets sealed up with a skin adhesive and you’re on your way about 15 minutes later. And with the anti-anxiety pill you get to take beforehand, I found there was no stress involved!


“As much as my friends said they didn’t go through any pain, I was worried,” said Fortier. “There wasn’t, so that was a nice surprise … just the smell of burning is the only thing (that stuck out). From the procedure, no pain at all.”


The aftermath


If there’s one thing many men who’ve had a vasectomy would recommend, it would be to take things slow afterwards.


I, an idiot, did the opposite. Mere days after my procedure, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead with a road trip with my eldest son I’d planned before making my appointment. Carrying coolers and heavy suitcases up hotel stairs was about as dumb a thing as I could have done, and let me tell you, being hunched over in pain at the beach, making my way back to the car to find my support was the wake-up call I needed. And it turned what should have been a weeklong recovery into more of a month-long one.


Fortier took the smarter route after hearing similar stories from his friends.


“I had two out of three people who I knew who had the procedure and didn’t follow the recovery instructions and experienced some pain, so I took their advice and followed it to a T,” he explained. From that, I didn’t have any issues… I iced as much as I could, I wore the support for two weeks after because I was playing some sports, and I had no issues.”