Health

'Could I feel what they were doing? Yes': Rob Delaney on the pain and pleasure of his vasectomy


I got a vasectomy a few months ago. A vasectomy is when they cut and tie off the vas deferens, which are these little tubes in your ball sack (scrotum) so that there’s no sperm (sperm) in your jizz (semen) when you bust (ejaculate). I did this because my wife and I don’t want her to get pregnant again. It doesn’t mean we don’t want any more kids, it just means that if we did have any more, they’d have to be adopted or stolen or left to us because friends or family with young kids died in a plane crash or had their brain stems blown apart by less-lethal rounds fired at them at point-blank range while they were waiting in an 11-hour line attempting to vote in November.

I figured after all my wife, Leah, and her body had done for our family, the least I could do was let a doctor slice into my bag and sterilise me. Leah had taken birth control for decades, which is a giant pain in the ass and also decidedly sexist pharmacological slavery. IMAGINE a man having to remember to not only take a pill every day, but also having to deal with employer-provided private insurance prescription plans in the US which drop you or sell your plan to another company without telling you, among other crimes. And messing up once could land you with – for example – an ectopic pregnancy that isn’t diagnosed soon enough because you’re afraid to go to the doctor due to your high deductible, so you literally die and are dead, in a cemetery. I think I speak for my bros when I say: “No thanks!”

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Plus, Leah had been pregnant for almost three of the previous eight years, resulting in four beautiful boys. Which, incidentally, is my fault, since the sperm determines the sex of the baby. That’s 166 weeks spent pregnant. Holy Christ is that bananas. As I was pregnant for zero weeks, Leah heartily agreed that a doctor should scalpel around in my balls so that she didn’t become pregnant again – by me, anyway.

Rob Delaney in London



‘My vasectomy was the first surgery I’ve had in the UK with the NHS. Nice and easy preliminary process.’ Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

When Leah was pregnant with our third, we started talking about me getting a vasectomy.

I raised the idea with an older couple we’re friends with and – in front of Leah – the guy said: “Oh don’t do that; what if things don’t work out with you and Leah and you meet a younger girl and she wants to have kids?”

“That’s EXACTLY why I’m doing it,” I said. I love Leah and I hope we die within minutes of each other in 2071, but if she left me or got hit by a meteor, all other women within a few miles of me need to know that I shall not sire (stud) again. We can go to the movies together and even attempt coitus after I’ve grieved for a sensible period (not less than three weeks), but I know my limits, and raising one brood as well as I can is all I have in me.

My vasectomy was the first surgery I’ve had in the UK with the NHS. Nice and easy preliminary process. I got a referral from the GP in my neighbourhood, then had an appointment with a balls guy. Nice Italian doctor named Bartolo, who gave my sack a confident grope and found my tubes easily and said he could do it with local anaesthetic.

I went in early one morning a few weeks later and was given a hospital bed. Hospitals make me sad, but also give me a deep peace, as I spent so much time in hospitals while our son Henry was being treated for brain cancer. Starting just after his first birthday, he lived in hospitals for 14 months. He visited them often after that while he lived at home for the final seven months of his short, beautiful life. I fantasised about them telling me I’d have to stay in the hospital for a while, and I could just think about Henry and feel closer communion with him. But I was also glad it would be an outpatient procedure, so I could get home to my alive kids and wife, who need me.

After a while, they wheeled me into the operating theatre and shaved my balls. I apologised for not having done so myself, but the doctor said it was better I didn’t since I probably wasn’t as good at shaving balls as he was and might have cut myself.

Then they shot some novocaine into my sack. I didn’t like that, but I figured I’d be glad they’d done it in a few minutes. Then they set to work slicing into my pouch and clamping and cutting my vas deferens. If you’re wondering if I could feel what they were doing, the answer is yes. I informed them of this and they gave me more novocaine. Since I’m not proud, I will tell you that at this point I asked for drugs or laughing gas or anything else they had handy. The nurse in turn asked me if I’d eaten breakfast that morning. The answer was yes, because it didn’t say explicitly not to in the literature they’d given me beforehand and I’m a bit of a breakfast guy. Thus, they couldn’t sedate me, lest I vomit up my breakfast and then choke on it.

So I just had to ride that pain wave, baby. I “comforted” myself with the knowledge that what I was enduring would probably feel like a pleasant respite compared with what my wife went through four (4) times to bring our chunky sons into the world.

After maybe 30 minutes, they were done and they slid a cotton-wool filled jockstrap on me and I was wheeled into a recovery room. I felt reasonably OK and was allowed to leave after my first successful pee. The pee came out of the correct hole and it didn’t hurt to produce.

Maybe a week later, my wife discovered me masturbating in our living room at 3am. I explained that my post-op literature said that my first loads after surgery could contain blood and I didn’t want her to have to see that. She appreciated that. God is good sometimes, however, and there was no blood. Thus, we could resume having sex.

Rob Delaney in London



‘Apologies to the NHS staff whose post-op procedures we’ve so flagrantly violated.’ Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

I’m happy to report that, barring a couple of weeks of waning discomfort, there were absolutely no side-effects from the surgery. No lingering pain, no reduced libido, no reduction in dreams where I watch chubby women struggle in and out of wetsuits through a hole in a barn wall. You can’t even see the scars, since they’re on my horrible wrinkled scrotum.

I am sad sometimes that I won’t get Leah pregnant again. Our youngest recently turned two and it hurts to think that we won’t make more chunky little nuggets together. We really love babies. Our older two were present at the birth of our youngest, who was born at home, and they’re amazing big brothers. So everyone at our house, including the baby, loves babies. But Leah and I both want her to be able to work and travel more easily and have a bigger world again, after an insane six years of being pregnant and breastfeeding, and sometimes doing those things while caring for a dying child. So, on balance, we’re glad I did it.

After your vasectomy, you’re supposed to ejaculate 20 times (at your own pace) and then bring a load into the doctor to be tested, so they know if the vasectomy worked. To keep track, I drew an eagle on a piece of paper and put a graph with 10 spots on each wing. Each time I skablorped, either with Leah or just by my lonesome, I put a little coloured sticker on a spot. I labelled it “The Eagle of Sexual Freedom”.

You’re also instructed to wear condoms until you have your semen tested, which Leah and I absolutely never once did. And since the coronavirus lockdown struck at the exact time I would’ve gone in to have my semen tested, I never did! So maybe it didn’t work and we’ll have more babies. Our field research (sexual intercourse to climax without pulling out) suggests that the vasectomy did work, since Leah used to get pregnant with the speed and purpose with which I run to the gas station when we’re out of peanut butter. (It’s the closest place that sells peanut butter.)

Apologies to the NHS staff whose post-op procedures we’ve so flagrantly violated, but if we do have another baby, we’ll name him Bartolo after the lovely doctor who messed around in my big, ugly balls.



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