So, you and your partner have decided you don't want kids or you don't want to add any other biological children to your family. It's nice you've come to an agreement, but now it's time to decide who is going to take the steps to make sure this doesn't happen.
While there are many options out there for people with a uterus, like the IUD, birth control pills or their having tubes tied, there aren't as many options for penis-owners. A lot of people hate condoms — they feel very high school, some people are allergic to latex, and really, being able to go at it freely is so much more fun, especially when you know you are going to be with the same partner.
To many, a vasectomy seems like a great option; after all, the person with the vagina has to do all the work birthing the child and may have already been through it. But that doesn't mean it's not scary to think about. To make this potentially uncomfortable conversation go smoothly, we spoke with experts about how to bring up the subject with your partner and exactly what you can expect from the procedure.
Deciding to get a vasectomy is a major decision and can make some feel as though they will be losing a part of their "manhood," Celeste Viciere, a licensed mental health clinician and cognitive behavioral therapist, tells SheKnows. Keep that in mind, and find a good time to initiate the conversation.
Viciere says it's best to "plan a date with your partner" and talk about the decision then. While you may be tempted to bring it up with them as soon as they get home work or when they are watching television, it's best to set aside time with no distractions.
Another important thing to note while bringing up a topic like this is to go into it without any expectations, Viciere says. Your partner may not agree, need time to think or ask you to have a procedure to prevent further pregnancies instead. If you go into without expecting an agreement right away, "you are able to stay mindful and avoid saying anything rash," she adds.
What the procedure involves
Anticipation is the worst part
Dr. Paul Turek, an internationally recognized leader in male reproductive and sexual care research, tells SheKnows that the actual vasectomy lasts about 10 minutes, and the worst part for most penis-havers is the anticipation — especially if they assume the procedure will be painful.
A vasectomy is performed by numbing the scrotum before a few cuts are made and the tubes that carry sperm (also known as the vas deferens) are blocked off, he explains. This happens by clamping them off, cauterizing the tubes or tying them.
After that, they patient is stitched up and can go home.
There is also a no-scalpel option
Many people with a penis are worried about the cutting part, but there is a scalpel-free option. Turek says this procedure is "as painless as possible," as it involves using a small tool to create a puncture hole into the vas deferens after a numbing cream is applied. This no-cut method heals quickly, and there are no stitches after, he notes.
As far as recovery goes, Turek tells his patients to take the next day off from working, lifting, exercising and anything else strenuous. He gives his patients two pain pills: one to take that evening and one to take the next morning. It's important to note that there's "no driving, operating heavy machinery or making complex decisions while on pain pills," Turek adds.
After that, the pain can be managed with an over-the-counter medication. Exercise can continue about three to four days after the procedure if you are feeling up to it, but Turek notes that most wait about a week before getting back into their normal routines.
When is it safe to have sex?
What a lot of people don't realize is that the vasectomy doesn't work instantly. In fact, people with a penis continue to be fertile after the procedure for the next 25 to 30 ejaculations, Turek says. If your partner isn't into keeping track of this, he recommends using another form of protection for about three months after the procedure. A semen sample is required for the doctor to give the go-ahead to have unprotected sex without risking pregnancy.
Vasectomy is a popular choice
Turek says he finds most people with penises want to take control of their sex lives and not have to bother with things like condoms or withdrawal any longer. Many couples aren't interested in using forms of hormonal birth control pills, and having the person with the penis take care of it hormone-free is a much more convenient option, he says.
Like anything related to sex and reproduction, the decision to get a vasectomy is a personal decision that's more complicated when the person has a partner. This is another example of why clear communication is so crucial in a relationship and why these conversations need to happen, even if they're uncomfortable.