How do I get a vasectomy as a young man?
January 18, 2010 4:02 PM   Subscribe

How do I get a vasectomy as a young man?

I am 23 years old and a recent college graduate who is just getting started out in the real world. Since the age of 14, I have always known that I never wanted to have any children of my own. I came from a good family and I had a happy childhood, but I simply have no desire to procreate, and I see it as a hindrance to my goals. I love to travel, and my lifestyle could be characterized as "nomadic" in a sense. I can also be fairly introverted and intently focused on studying or, more recently, my job. My family also has a history of Type I diabetes. For all of these reasons, I do not think it would be prudent for me to be a father. Contraceptives are not enough - I am absolutely terrified at the prospect of having an "accident" despite my precautions, and I am neither strong enough nor willing to become abstinent. I don't hate kids by any means - but I don't want and could not support one of my own, either.

Unfortunately, my attempts to get a vasectomy done in the US have all failed. I've been hit with the standard "you could change your mind and this procedure is irreversible" argument (which I bristle at; having a kid is kind of an irreversible decision, too). When I was 21, I went to one physician who said he would perform the procedure if I came back in a year and still hadn't changed my mind. Well, I came back one year later - and he reneged and still refused to do it. I've talked to my parents, and they are both completely supportive of my decision. I'm single, so there are no qualms with a significant other being opposed to the procedure, either. But I still can't find anyone to do it. I'm at a complete loss of how to get it done, and as a 23-year old guy, I don't feel like this should even be an issue. Shouldn't I have control over my reproductive rights, too?

I'm past the point of having to rationalize my decision to anybody else - at this point, I simply want to discuss the logistics of how to get this done. Do I go to India or Mexico and have it done? Continue my search in the US? Bribe a physician into doing it (obviously I'm not really considering it but I feel frustrated enough to)? Sign a waiver form indemnifying the doctor who does it? Can anybody help me out here? I will be eternally grateful if someone can assist me!
posted by Despondent_Monkey to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My advice would be to keep looking in the US. I'm sure there are doctors who would understand your feelings, and would perform the procedure.

This might be a really strange solution, but Planned Parenthood may be able to refer you to someone.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:04 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you tried contacting Planned Parenthood? My ex-boyfriend got a vasectomy when he was 24, at a Planned Parenthood in Minnesota. They gave him no trouble at all.
posted by FrauMaschine at 4:06 PM on January 18, 2010

Every single man I know (5 that I know of) that was voluntarily sterilized in their 20s attempted a reversal later on, usually at the urging of their spouse. Those doctors are painfully aware of this fact, and are refusing to perform the surgery based on that history.

That having been said, just Google urology in your city, work your way down the list until you find one who will work with you. You may not find the best urologist, but you've got to find a willing one eventually.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:10 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Great advice from room317. Planned Parenthood will put you on the right track, and, if I'm not mistaken, some locations may even perform it in-house. Get thee to PP!
posted by The Potate at 4:10 PM on January 18, 2010

I think planned parenthood is the way to go. If that fails (and this is probably a TERRIBLE idea), I would just try telling a doctor that you have two children and don't want anymore.
posted by milarepa at 4:13 PM on January 18, 2010

Also, you can freeze your sperm for if you decide to have kids later. It's pretty expensive, not guaranteed to survive and not guaranteed to get a woman pregnant either, but it might be enough to convince a reluctant doctor.
posted by The Potate at 4:14 PM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Minor tangent- if you are terrified at the prospect of an accident, it is important to select a competent doctor to perform the vasectomy, because they can reverse on their own, and you can wind up with 2 post-v children like a man I know (he actually had them after his second vasectomy). So no fly-by-night place in another country. Also, if you feel that strongly about it, you may want to continue to use birth control after you have it done, anyway.
posted by Ashley801 at 4:16 PM on January 18, 2010

[A couple comments removed. Folks, the question is not "should I have a vasectomy".]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:30 PM on January 18, 2010 [12 favorites]

It's going to be very difficult to find someone who will give you the snip at this age, but you just have to keep looking. I've been asking my doctor every year at my yearly visit, and making sure that they document in my chart that I would like to be fixed. I actually found a doctor (In Kentucky, no less!) when I was 24 who agreed to tie my tubes, but sadly, I couldn't afford it.

I'll be 30 this year, and I've still never changed my mind, so I'm still waiting and hoping for the magic combination of a willing doctor and me having enough money to pay for the surgery.

At least though with you being a guy, you've generally got it much easier than women do. When I tell people I'm never reproducing under any circumstances, I am almost always treated rudely and told that I'll change my mind later on because they knew someone who changed their mind once upon a time.

I don't know where you are located, but maybe check out this webpage if you are close to Indiana at all - Next Chapter PBC.

I wish you the best of luck!
posted by mabelcolby at 4:31 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go to enough urologists and you'll eventually find one willing to do the procedure. Vasectomy is far from the most ill-advised surgical procedure that 23-year-olds get done on a pretty regular basis.
posted by The World Famous at 4:36 PM on January 18, 2010

I just had a vasectomy at the age of 36, and even I had to run the gauntlet of doctors asking me "Are you sure? Are you really sure?" This was, I think, less because they thought everyone in the world should have kids (I don't) and more because (in one guy's words) "You wouldn't believe how many college-age guys I have coming in here in a total panic because they had a close call with their girlfriend." Obviously you're in a different place, but I guess I can't fault them for wanting to make sure you're sure.

That said, I do not believe doctors should be allowed to refuse to perform this surgery on any adult male of sound mind.
posted by you just lost the game at 4:37 PM on January 18, 2010

If that fails (and this is probably a TERRIBLE idea), I would just try telling a doctor that you have two children and don't want anymore.

This may not work - I wanted a hysterectomy after three kids at age 23 but doctors *still* would not give me one - even with my husband's consent and support (we were a military family), because they said -- get this -- I might want more kids later. I finally found a doctor to give me one (after three c-sections, four kids, and two miscarriages).

I wish you luck on finding a doctor - planned parenthood is probably the way to go.
posted by patheral at 4:43 PM on January 18, 2010

I hate to say this, but my experience is that people are more sympathetic to the desire to permanently sterilize when it's put in eugenics terms, as in "I don't want to pass on [diabetes] to children". I was older than you when I made the decision to foreclose on having kids, and there were other factors including some health issues for my spouse, but even with those factors, I've taken a fair amount of guff. Using my crappy draw in the gene pool lottery been the one thing that has consistently shut down any arguments about sterilization and not having kids and so on.
posted by immlass at 4:44 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

look at this question - ignore all the "but your future wife should get a say!" answers. there seem to be a few guys who got the procedure done at around your age - send off some memails and ask how they got it done and who performed the procedure.
posted by nadawi at 4:44 PM on January 18, 2010

If you continue to have trouble finding a doctor who will do this for you (and I'll echo the Planned Parenthood advice above), you might try asking the most promising-seeming doctor if a letter from a psychologist would help convince him or her to do the surgery. I believe that this sort of documentation is required by most docs before they will perform a sex-change surgery, so there is some basis in practice for the doctor to accept such evidence. Obviously a vasectomy is nowhere near as life-changing as sex reassignment surgery, so hopefully the doctor would be willing to listen to a mental health professional who has assessed that you are making a well-reasoned decision. Of course then you'll have to find a psychologist who will evaluate you and agree that you aren't being impulsive or irrational or whatever, but hopefully that won't be too difficult if it's true.
posted by vytae at 4:49 PM on January 18, 2010

also: have you tried asking the doctors who refuse for a referral to a doctor who won't refuse?
posted by nadawi at 4:53 PM on January 18, 2010

Planned Parenthood FTW. Husband got snipped at 27, got the same runaround from urologists despite a complete certainty on our part ("hey, children are ALSO a permanent decision, Doc!") One doc even had him come in to tell him he wouldn't do it, because then he could collect a consult fee. Wouldn't answer over the phone. Very frustrating. PP on the other hand was wonderfully supportive - we did have to watch a movie about vasectomy fact & myth sort of thing and go over the permanence of it, but then it was full speed ahead and happy awesomeness ever since.
posted by Lou Stuells at 4:55 PM on January 18, 2010

My former brother-in-law was able to get a vasectomy at 24 after some looking. He was married, which made a difference to the doctor (maybe because my sister should not get pregnant for life-threatening reasons, maybe just because they confirmed that they were both not interested in having kids). I doubt being single is of any benefit to a doctor considering your case; if anything, it would be an easier case if you were married to someone who also did not want or could not have children.

Also, keep in mind that few women in their twenties will believe or be reassured by your claim of having a vasectomy, even if it's true, so you might need to keep using protection anyway (and you certainly should be using it for STD protection). I sure wouldn't care and would insist you use a condom. Just a thought.

However, if it's something you still want, I do like the idea of a letter from a psychologist, particularly if you can find a doctor who has performed sex-change surgery to perform your vasectomy.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:03 PM on January 18, 2010

Totally ask Planned Parenthood. Do you live in Oregon? You can get it done for free here!

Of the men I know who've gotten the V -- all but one did it in their early twenties. My current partner had it done at 29, for free, through Planned Parenthood. They did make him wait one month between the initial counseling appointment and the actual procedure - this seems to be a fairly common thing.
There ARE doctors out there that will do it. They might just be really damn hard to find in your area, or you may have to travel for the procedure.
posted by circle_b at 6:20 PM on January 18, 2010

Yeah, you *really* need to play up the "I don't want to pass genetic conditions to any offspring" angle. Mr. F has never wanted children, is the third generation of Type 2 diabetic men in his family, and finally got the snip almost two years ago from the friendly local urologist-- who didn't care that we weren't married at the time, and didn't care that Mr. F hadn't had children. All that guy wanted to know was that Mr. F wanted a vasectomy, that I supported that decision, and that neither of us wanted to burden our kids with our medical BS.

If you're in Los Angeles, MeMail me and I'll tell you where we went. Also, there are a number of birth control and reproductive communities on LiveJournal where people pass around that kind of information-- docs willing to implant IUDs in women without children and the like. Sniff around there and see if you can't come up with something.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:34 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep, get thee to planned parenthood.
posted by usonian at 7:45 PM on January 18, 2010

My husband got one at age 21 via a Planned Parenthood in San Diego.

I was never "in the room" for conversations he had with the people who worked there, but he did get a letter from a psychologist he had seen as a teenager as a "doctor's note" for "yes, this guy doesn't want kids". But since I wasn't in the room, I can't tell you how important or typical that was.
posted by itesser at 9:02 PM on January 18, 2010

Dr. Doug Stein of Florida has a great reputation for performing vasectomies on younger and/or childfree men. If you don't live in Florida, perhaps you could combine it with a beach vacation?
posted by Violet Hour at 10:55 PM on January 18, 2010

Planned Parenthood in Portland Oregon: a one-hour 'are you sure' lecture, a one-month waiting period, a five-minute 'are you sure' lecture, snip snip, pay a small amount, done.
posted by eccnineten at 6:37 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just as an aside, be careful when you do get the snip and watch your recovery like a hawk. I've mentioned before here that my husband is a type 1 diabetic, which was discovered and diagnosed at age 37 when he had a terrible time recovering from his vasectomy. You don't say that you already have diabetes--just that your family has the history--but you can get diagnosed later in life; we have living proof.

(I do NOT know if a doctor would have been reluctant to do it had he known at the time that my husband was a diabetic, so I don't know if that could cause an issue were you to play the "reluctant to pass down genetic diseases" card. My assumption is no, but the doc probably would have handled the recovery process a lot differently and given my husband a lot more warning about what to expect.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:13 AM on January 19, 2010

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