Correction to This Article
A Sept. 27 Health article incorrectly said that recanalization involves the return of sterility after a vasectomy. Recanalization involves the accidental return of fertility after the procedure.

Snip and Tuck

Illustration: Vasectomy
Vasectomy illustration
By Buzz McClain
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

When you are considering a vasectomy, you tend to mention it to other people to get their reaction.

You don't do this to actually get their opinion, of course. You do this to sound it out, to get used to the idea yourself. After all, the doctor is going to be messing around, you know, down there with surgical tools. You don't want to go into this unconvinced it's the best thing. So you ask around.

When you do, you hear a lot of euphemisms for the procedure. The most common one is "snip," as in, "Oh, so you're going to get snipped." This is comforting; it sounds like something you do to a loose thread, or a hair that's sprouted from your nose.

The problem is, nobody tells you that the procedure essentially involves not a mere snip, but the withdrawal of sensitive tissues from your scrotum, cutting them so they can no longer carry sperm from your testicles to outside, burning their ends with a searing tool, and then sticking them back inside and sewing everything back up.

Perhaps this is for the best.

Vasectomy Joke No. 1: A guy wakes up from a vasectomy and the doctor tells him he has good news and bad news. "The good news is we were able to save your testicles. The bad news is they're under your pillow."

The idea to get a vasectomy was mine, actually. It dawned on me two years ago that my children -- then 8 and 6 and now 10 and 7 (he's falling behind!) -- were wearing me out and that any additional siblings could send me to a very early grave.

I'm an at-home father with a penchant for keeping the kids active. That wasn't such a challenge when their idea of activity was watching "DragonTales," but now that they're fully immersed in the juvenile-sports-and-arts industrial complex, there's a lot of driving around and playing catch involved, not to mention increasingly difficult homework.

The idea of having again to change diapers and training pants (not mine, theirs) for years -- and reassemble the world's most complex crib -- did not warm my heart. In fact, it made my blood run cold.

But every time I'd mention getting neutered, my 39-forever wife would get a wistful look in her eye and gaze off into the near distance and say, "Not yet. I think there may be another little miracle waiting to happen between us."

So it was to my infinite delight that one day a few months ago my wife announced she was going off the pill and, basically, should I ever want to get extra friendly again, it would be my turn to shoulder the burden of contraception.

I was all too happy to oblige. So I started asking around.


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