My Husband Said He’d Get A Vasectomy But Hasn’t. I’m Okay With That

If he takes a while to come round to the idea, I support him. I certainly don’t believe my husband “owes” me.
HuffPost UK

The first time my husband told me he definitely wanted a vasectomy, I’d just given birth to our second son, and we were gazing in dumb adoration at him.

“His eyes are like chocolate buttons!” I said, like an idiot. “Look at his cute little rosebud lips!” My husband proclaimed, with equal perspicacity. Then: “I’m going to get a vasectomy as soon as possible.” “Sounds good,” was my immediate reply. “God, he’s like a little doll.”

Honestly, a vasectomy sounded like the logical next step. I’d just been through my second emergency Caesarean section; I didn’t seem to get on with contraception, and despite the fact that I was a lady of a certain age (41) at the time and we were running out of bedrooms, my cheery obstetrician had informed me “you have the uterus of a woman half your age!” and could “probably churn ’em out till kingdom come!”

This was was two years ago. Has my husband had a vasectomy? No. Do I mind? Not a bit of it. Here’s why.

Couple face to face
Malte Mueller via Getty Images
Couple face to face

1. We looked into what a vasectomy actually involved

For months after the birth my husband and I would yelp “Vasectomy!” if anyone even looked like they’d ask about future children.

But further investigation revealed that vasectomies on the NHS can feature long waiting lists, pre-procedural counselling, and during recovery you must a) still use contraception until b) you have produced “many, many” ejaculations proving the vasectomy has “taken”. And to be honest, all squeamishness about scalpels and scrota aside, it hardly seems worth it at the moment.

That’s not to say vasectomies aren’t worth it – they’re really a very sensible thing to undertake. But they do take commitment. Right now both of us are engaged in the constant firefight that is parenting two small, sleep-averse children while working full-time and with very little outside help. So it’s just one of those things we need to put off until our free childcare hours kick in and the whirlwind eases up a little.

Besides, right now we get so little time to ourselves – individually or as a couple – that the best possible scenario for vasectomy recovery would involve “any, any ejaculations”.

2. “Our” contraception isn’t “my” job

There is a wider trend for men to let the responsibility for contraception rest on the woman’s shoulders. Some man-babies are content for their female partners to wreck their bodies with hormones and implants just so long as they don’t have to deal with a scalpel on their nethers, or the inconvenience of condoms.

My own long history of contraception involves depression, worsened migraines, and six months of bleeding thanks to the contraceptive pill, and chronic bacterial vaginosis from the copper coil (not to mention the horrific pain of having it placed in my then-maiden uterus).

So I jettisoned all these methods (not literally, although it might have been cathartic with the IUD) and have stuck to condoms ever since.

My husband has always been fully supportive of this – that sentence originally started with the word “luckily”, but it’s not luck. It’s my husband being an actual compassionate human being, which is what – in reality – anyone in a relationship should expect from their partner.

3. Pain isn’t a competition

Friends and family members have reacted to my husband’s reticence so weirdly. “You are aware, aren’t you,” some have repeatedly pronounced, “that your wife went through the pain of childbirth.”

Sure, I went through that pain. In fact, if we’re talking about it, I went through the pain of ultrasound technicians pressing down really hard on my belly fat (this doesn’t get talked about enough); I had a giant amniocentesis needle plunged through my belly for DNA sampling; developed sepsis during labour; and experienced back-to-back labour (the most painful kind) with no pain relief.

Exactly none of this happened because my husband hadn’t had a vasectomy, and at no point was I expecting him to rack up an equivalent amount of pain to match mine. If anything, having experienced this sort of pain has made me more sympathetic to anyone who’s feeling a bit iffy about, for example, someone cutting a hole in their scrotum – no matter how much good it might do.

4. There should be no double-standards around fear

Whenever I’ve expressed fear of – say – having the smear (which can be painful and uncomfortable) people have treated me with empathy. They’ve understood my fears; tried to assuage them; suggested coping strategies; and, very gently, reminded me of the importance of the smear test.

Whereas my husband gets jokey, blokey “are you a man or a mouse”-style commandments to “man up” or “take it like a man”. Yes, vasectomies are safe and effective, but they can involve pain in a sensitive area. If you wouldn’t tell a woman to stop being a coward, why is it okay to say it to a man?

5. Here’s what my husband has achieved in the last two years

He passed his driving test and bought a car, which has been a game-changer for our family. He’s found new and innovative ways of generating income to help support us all. He’s stepped up and taken care of everything – food, home, parenting, working, everything – while I spent most of a year in bed with a chronic illness. And he raised thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support by walking the circumference of the Isle of Wight in memory of his mother, who died just a few weeks before our second son was born.

He’s a fully signed-on adult human being, so if he takes a while to come round to the idea of a vasectomy – for whatever reason – I support him entirely, just as he supports me with my choices. I certainly don’t believe my husband “owes” me a vasectomy because I went through childbirth, which is good news for him, as we have two children, so technically he would owe me two vasectomies.