There's something quite surreal about lying on your back wearing nothing but a T shirt, making small talk with two middle-aged nurses whilst a surgeon goes to town on your bits. But that's what I found myself doing on Tuesday morning.
Let's rewind a few weeks, to when I'm sitting in front of my GP explaining why I want a vasectomy at just 28 years of age.
Every inch of me wants to yell: 'Because I've had THREE KIDS, that's WHY!' whilst clawing at my face and pulling down my lower eyelids to show him just how tired I am, but instead I try to put forward a reasoned argument.
"It was always our intention to have children early," I explain, "so that when they're old enough to be independent my wife and I are still young enough to go on holiday and enjoy our freedom. We just want to be certain that we're not going to have any accidents in the future."
'Freedom' is perhaps a strong word, and suggests I find my children to be a hindrance. This is certainly not the case, and I love my kids more than anything – and, if we were to discover that we were expecting another, we would love it and care for it just as much as the others. It goes without saying.
But I really, really don't want any more kids, and my wife is less than inclined to spend the rest of her fertile days taking hormones or harbouring implants, and that's why I want to do what 65,000 men in the UK do every year and having the snip.
Eventually, my GP grudgingly agrees to refer me for a consultation at a local clinic which specialises in NHS vasectomies, which I have the following week.
I find myself sitting in what was once the spacious lounge of a Victorian home, reading a little pamphlet which explains the procedure and the risks it entails: haematoma, sperm granuloma, chronic testicular pain – and regret, which isn't really a condition but is on the list anyway.
I'm also avoiding any eye contact with the four or so other men in the room with me, and they do the same. On the odd occasion our eyes do meet, our expressions are ones of mutual sympathy.
I am taken into a small room, where my height and weight is recorded and a nurse explains that a vasectomy is considered a permanent procedure: reversal is an option, but they are only effective 40 percent of the time and won't be funded by the NHS. The risk of the vasectomy failing is 1 in 2,000, and I will only get my little certificate of sterilisation once I've provided two samples which are free from sperm.
The operation is booked for the following Tuesday: fast forward a week and I am in the operating theatre, chatting politely and wincing occasionally as the procedure comes to a close. Nervous, and trying my hardest to act normal whilst naked from the waist down in front of strangers, I attempt a joke. It falls flat, and I make a mental note to keep quiet.
After 10 minutes, the procedure is over. Despite my bravery, I don't get a sticker or a lolly; two rewards which would definitely not have been given to the guy who went in before me (he fainted).
The discharge nurse recites a list of instructions: no heavy lifting, no driving long distances, and no exercise for two weeks. I tell her I haven't exercised in two years. She doesn't laugh.
Two days on, and Lefty is aching a bit and I'm walking a tad peculiar and easing myself into chairs at the speed of two spacecraft docking. Do I regret my decision (or 'our' decision, as this was discussed at length with my wife)? Not at all.
After having spoken to a couple of friends in the medical profession I am certain that what I have done by having a vasectomy is be a responsible parent. After all, no parent wants an unwanted pregnancy, and by eliminating this possibility I am doing the best thing for myself and my family.
Plus, I'm living by the 'life begins at 40' rule. If I get to 40 and discover it's not true, someone is going to pay.
Men, would you - or have you had - a vasectomy? Women, have you encouraged your partner to have one?
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