What follows below is essentially a pro childfree/sterilization essay. So far i do not regret my vasectomy in the least. Even so i do feel it would be irresponsible and wrong to not give usefull information that sheds light on the (possible) problems associated with vasectomies. Ironically i did not find this information myself untill a few days after my procedure.
The website http://dontfixit.org/
Seems to be very well-informed (but also biased) about the risks of vasectomy, i would urge anyone considering getting sterilized to read it thoroughly and to discuss these issues with your physician.
- Taking my chances without any contraceptive
- Her getting a intrauterine device (IUD)
- Her taking the pill
- Me getting sterilized
I think that in
(longer-term) relationship based on trust using condoms are not the way to go.
Not only are there the obvious problems (does not feel as nice, somewhat kills
spontaneity) I have also found that for me there is another practical
consideration. At one time or another I have used many different brands of
condom. But, in all cases they have failed me. With different brands and with
different girls I have found condoms can break quite easily. This usually occurs
when I have sex for a relatively longer period of time. In the past this has
meant that on a couple of occasions the girl and me decided to go get a morning
after pill. And, to be absolutely on the safe side I later also went to get an
HIV test. Not things which are desirable or enjoyable for anyone. The only way I
have found to counteract the (possible) rupturing of condoms is to put on a new
one every few minutes when I have sex for longer periods of time. Sometimes this
means you have to change 3 or 4 times on during one sexual encounter. Again, not
very nice in terms of spontaneity. Also, it can get fairly
Finally, one my exes once had sex with a condom –that did not visibly break- and she still became pregnant.
Taking my Chances
Another option –not viable at all really- would be to take my chances. I have never really done this and I do not intend to start now. Far too many people do and with disastrous results. But although so far I have proved strong willed in this area I do not think I am infallible. I did have some close calls when I experienced a strong desire and it almost made sense to just go ahead and forget about protection of any kind. Nobody wants to catch something or have a child unprepared. So, this is not an option at all really.
Abstinence, well that is something I do not want, and thus can not, do.
Her getting a Intrauterine Device (IUD)
An IUD, being the small device inserted into the uterus (womb) of a woman to prevent conception, is a fair option. Providing the girl wants to go through this procedure, many do not. They do not like the idea of something “foreign” in their body. So this is not really a long-term option, for me, since I can hardly expect or hope all my future partners to want to get such a device.
The pill is by comparison to the above and from a practical point of view the most satisfactory option. But, very importantly, it is also something the girl has to do, something I can not. This is truly a problem since:
a) I can’t expect or
demand from anyone to take the pill. There are good reasons why many girls do
not want to take the pill (anymore). For instance the fact that the pill
(despite improvements) still upsets the entire hormone system of the woman. The
menstrual cycle is altered and it is not yet certain if taking the pill for
years can have harmful long-term effects. There are girls that appreciate
experiencing their menstrual cycle, taking the pill means they can
b) What if she forgets? People can and do forget. What if for whatever reason it does not function? I have heard of many cases of someone vomiting and subsequently getting pregnant because the pill did not get a chance to work. What if any of these scenarios actually happen and the girl decides to keep the baby? I will have to deal with the consequences for the rest of my life since I am not likely to deny the child’s existence.
c) I think I should take at least half the responsibility for what my sperms may cause instead of letting someone else take all responsibility.
In other words I do not want to be dependent when it concerns such a (potentially) important aspect of my life. If I want to take responsibility there is to my knowledge only one option which is both viable and practical. This option is that I get sterilized.
I know how many people (especially fathers, mothers and so) think sterilization is an extreme and bad decision for anyone of my age (I am 25). Some people would say I have “gone mad and, what the hell am I talking about and why would I go destroying something that is natural and a part of my body. And what if I fall in love with someone and they want a baby, how can I make that choice for them? It could mean the end of the relationship because I can’t provide her with something that is such a basic need. Also I might change my mind about wanting children. And of all the hair-brained schemes I’ve come up with this is the worst one. And that she knew somebody that had it done and he turned impotent. Is that what I want, do I want to give up sex forever?”
Quite a typical overemotional and irrational reaction some people are capable of. It is harsh and hurtful when people -especially those close to you- can not find it in them to give you support. In my case it increased my already generally negative view of family, children and a lot connected with those things.
Practical, Ethical and Idealistic concerns
I would like to elaborate on the concerns directly above to better convey why I think sterilization for myself at the very least is a good idea:
1. There are far more than enough people on the earth. There is a population explosion, which has been going on for decades. According to some theories by 2100 there will be around 18 billion humans and only then will this rampant growth begin to stop. Already now it could be argued that humanity has become a plague that threatens to irreversibly damage the entire planet.
Of course I do feel that I want one or more persons to give love to. Almost every human being feels this urge. But there are enough people around to choose from, so why create another, just for this purpose? It seems an ill-conceived, unreasoned and possibly selfish notion. Giving your love and attention to the people already in this world is imperative I think. Unfortunately there are enough people that are in dire need of love, affection and attention. It is too easy to just make a child so you can give it love. If the object of your affection must be a child, then by all means adopt one, do not make one. Adopted children can turn out to be well developed and balanced individuals contrary to what some people would say. It all depends on the parents and the environment. Also, if one adopts a child from an overpopulated/ developing country this can have some very positive side effects. By adopting instead of reproducing you make sure you do not add to the huge world population and all the related problems. Additionally you give an individual without much of a future an entire new and far, far better chance at a worthwhile live.
If adoption is too difficult or definitive for you how about co-parenting, foster parenting or just spending some time with or people’s children. These choices offer most of the rewards and avoid many of the problems that so often result from having your own children.
My arguments above, point 1. is by far my most important argument.
2. I do not like sounding moralist or negative but in a very real sense the most polluting thing any human being can do is making another human being. Take everything (environmentally detrimental) you did in your life and multiply it by two. That is, in essence, what having a child means for the environment. People would like to think and often say that in the future technology is going to fix all that and people will pollute less. But since the industrial revolution history has shown conclusively that a general increase in technology has always lead to an increase in pollution not a decrease. Many scientist and theories maintain that if we carry on the way we are doing now, the damage to the entire eco-system will only get greater and possibly irreversible, no matter which technology we develop. Looking closely at the so called ‘solutions’ offered at the moment they are pathetic in comparison to the ongoing pollution. Additionally hardly anybody incorporates these solutions into their daily lives anyway. How many people do you know that recycle 80% of the stuff they throw away? How many people do you know that have a catalytic converter or solar power modules? Looking at the big picture, the most destructive and irresponsible thing I could do for the environment is create people.
3. At present I would not know how to raise a child. I know that up to a certain level there is no wrong way and no right way. You just kind of go along, do your best and take it day by day. But I am not willing to go about it in such a simple-minded way seeing that I am taking the responsibility for somebody’s well-being, future and a huge portion of their life with my decisions.
4. I have not yet met
or seen any parent that made me think ‘Yes, if I could parent like that I would
really be doing a great job and offering my child a great life.’ More often I
have seen the exact opposite. My childhood was a fairly good one, but I still
would not wish it on anyone else. I can not help but question those people that
had a lousy childhood and life but then still think it is a good idea to have
I suppose they have their reasons.
5. The idea that I am a hundred percent responsible for somebody for years and years to come holds no appeal to me whatsoever at this point in my life. I doubt it ever will, I value my freedom too much to voluntarily curtail it for 16 or more years, despite the great rewards of parenthood. I hope to experience at least some if not all of those rewards by helping others raise their children.
6. I view not having children of my own as an enrichment of my life not an impoverishment. It allows me to truly focus on my current loved ones (including children) and my own development, for my entire life.
Recently I have been asking quite some people, especially women what their view on the subject is. Responses have been varied, but most do not think sterilization is a good idea at all. The arguments against it were as I relate them below. I have also given my refutations following each point:
1. You’re young, how can you make such a decision –which will influence the rest of your life- so early in life?
I have been carefully considering this for a couple of years now, and I have felt I did not want any children for as long as I can remember. It is not a spur of the moment decision. Seeing that as a male I can practically produce children until the day I die, when is the time right to make such a decision? At 30, what if I change my mind at 35? At 40? I could change my mind at 45. At 70? When is the time right for such a decision? People make decisions that impact the rest their lives on a fairly regular basis. Where you reside, who you interact with etc. Usually one can not foresee exactly where it is all going anyway, often you are unaware of the ramifications of your actions. In this particular case however I think I know almost all of the implications and have found them acceptable, many of them even desirable.
2. Sterilization is a one way thing, what if you may change your mind?
About it being one way that is the whole idea, it is what I want. But in the highly unlikely circumstance that I ever do change my mind there is still one medical option available: reconstructive surgery, even if the chance of success is reasonable at best.
3. What if you meet the woman of your life and she wants children and you are already sterilized, you want to lose her for that?
Well, would it not it be mindless and unfair if the woman of my life dumped me because I could not do something that was already beyond my control? How much does that love mean then? Would it not it be even more ludicrous if I now did not follow my heart and mind and later in life gave in and had a child for her sake, or the relationship’s sake all the time not really wanting a child at all? Obviously a woman that demanded the impossible or highly objectionable from me would not be the woman of my life.
2. Having children or not having them is an emotional decision, not a rational one. Why would anyone force rational thought on a subject you should not be making a rational decision on in the first place?
This argument I find harder to counter than the others because my rhetoric is based mainly on rational thought. Aside from that I must state that due to my emotional disposition I never have and am unlikely to ever ‘feel’ good about having children. This, coupled with ratio for me is more than enough.
3. If all the intelligent/responsible people chose to be sterilized, only the idiotic would multiply. Do you not think you owe it to yourself or mankind to keep your DNA in the gene pool?
Well NO, this premise smacks of an elitist and self-absorbed view. Even if this was not the case I say let the inane and irresponsible multiply. They will be happy and anybody who feels the way I do (the above statement implies that a child of mine would share my views) will not be around to suffer from the foolishness and madness.
4. Having children is important for your natural development as a person.
As previously stated I do think being with children is important for your personal development and plain old fun. One gets to relive many aspects of your own childhood; it brings you in touch with wonderment, honesty and innocence. But again I do not think they have to be your own children. I know there will always be enough people around that will produce children.
5. The only reason you want to get sterilized is so you could have uncomplicated sex at any moment of your choosing, this is shortsighted since there are other less far-reaching solutions.
This true and untrue. True because, yes of course the only time this issue becomes an issue is when I (want to) have sex. I am not going to get sterilized because it would make me a better skateboarder, farmer or whatever I will choose to do. So yes up to this point this argument holds water, but it is not a reason to not get sterilized. As for the uncomplicated or casual sex, I am not planning to have unsafe casual sex anyway, and the reason is not because of children.
As for the other “better” solutions, well I discussed them above and the only ones I found feasible are the i.u.d. and the pill, but they not really a solution for me or for the long term since they are something my lover has to do.
To conclude my thoughts on the issue; I know I am not out of the woods yet. I do still have a few relatively minor concerns that I want to look into before I get sterilized.
1. I believe research has been done which has shown that the urge to become a parent is indeed strong with woman, stronger than with men. It is a wish, which tends to become very important somewhere between 25 and 35 years of age I have been told. I have also heard sometimes that physiologically and psychologically it can be healthier for a woman to reproduce at least once. If someone wants to have a child for these reasons I do not think I could argue against it, I simply would not want it to be my child.
2. Following a bit of -qualitative not quantitative- research I have found that about half of the women I know are against sterilization. The majority of them have produced the second argument of the ones listed above (the love of your life argument). This in itself is not worrying to me, since I can easily refute this argument for myself at least.
The fact that most of
them think this way does alarm me a bit. It may mean that
will be hard pressed to find a partner/lover that does not feel this way, especially as I get older. In turn this implies that if it ever came down to it quite some women will find me being sterile a legitimate reason to end a relationship with me no matter how good this relationship may be. This is a scary thought. I guess this is an extension of the primal fear of being left alone in the end. Although technically there is no end and obviously life goes on even after you are dumped it is still a concern. I will find it bothersome, and I might even feel I have erred if it starts becoming a recurring pattern in my life. But then I am even more scared about being emotionally bullied into having a child.
3. I am still a little unsure about the emotional versus rational argument (argument 4). For now and the last few years having my own children does not feel right for me, and in all truth and honesty, I believe the chance that that will ever change to be very small indeed.
How I felt after being sterilized
Anyone who reads what follows should realize what follows is only my experience. How a person feels after sterilization probably depends on many factors and I expect it varies a lot.
Right after the procedure my girlfriend accompanied me home. Although she supported me in my choice something happened on the way home. She experienced a momentary emotional twinge of sadness at the idea that having children with me was no longer an option. Not that we ever seriously considered having children together. Her momentary reaction does illustrate well how reproduction can have a strong power over some people’s emotions despite their ideas or logic. After she expressed her feelings and we talked about it, she was fine and she hasn’t felt sad since.
Physically, the sterilization and the days after were only very slightly painful, much to my relief and even surprise. I am not at all a person who is really good with physical pain, quite the reverse. Nonetheless I felt almost no pain, for me going to the dentist is much more painful.
I was a bit uncomfortable and my groin was tender and the testicles were swollen a fair bit afterwards, but that is it. The last few days felt very much like the feeling one has 2 or 3 hours after someone has kicked you in the groin. The pain is not there (anymore) but you know you have to take it easy but you are also aware the discomfort will pass in time.
During day 1. and 2. I took 3 painkillers, Ibuprofen 400 mg. The first right after the procedure, the second in the evening and the last the next morning.
The second night after
the being sterilized I took of my tight underwear off (you have the wear this
the first 24 hours) this felt much better, I then put on my normal (mine
are really roomy) boxershorts.
The third day my groin was a lot less tender still.
About 43 hours after the operation I tried very slowly and carefully pulling of the Band-Aid. The booklet I got from hospital said I should wait 48 hours but the surgeon assured me 24 hours was also fine. Again, no pain. The Band-Aid on the left had more blood (not much at all really) caked underneath so it didn’t come right away or easily. I just cut away the bits that were loose and let It be. An hour later I noticed it had fallen off by itself without me even being aware of it.
I decided to check how it all looked. Looked good. The swelling had gone down quite a bit. The right had a little more dried blood and looked a bit more like a small cut despite the stitch. The left one looked really clean and closed, I guess all the caked blood came away with the Band-Aid.
The little cuts were at quite different heights/positions. The right only a little (less than a cm below the left hand edge of the base of my penis. The left one was about 2.5 cm below and 1.5 cm to the left of the base of my penis. I think the surgeon just makes the cuts wherever he sees it will be easiest to access the sperm ducts, since the they run over the entire length (I think) of the testicles.
My left testicle had a very small hemorrhage (little blue/purple area of about 1 by 0.5 cm) underneath the skin. Not painful or swollen just blue.
After two and a half days I washed parts of myself very carefully. I made very sure that no water came even near my groin.
Now, 3.5 days later I
feel good. Me and my girlfriend can’t wait to have sex, but unfortunately I have
to wait two more days. Of course we will still have to use contraception for 3
months. But hell what is 3 months when I have the rest of my life without
worrying about becoming a father against my will.