Blanks or Bullets?
July 31, 2005 4:02 PM   Subscribe

ShootingBlanksFilter: I'm a single male in my mid-twenties, whom after taking a long break from the opposite sex, is getting back into the game. However, reading about fertility control issues, and also having first-hand experience with this, I've come to realize that men do not have the same reproductive control options available to them that women do. So now I'm considering a vasectomy.

Now, don't be taken aghast yet- we're not talking about ending my ability to have children. My plan is to have my 'stuff' stored in a sperm bank, paying the rent on a very long term basis and ensuring it would be safe. This would allow in vitro fertilization in the future, if I were to get married.

Due to the US's theological influence to reproductive issues, I fear it will be many years before the male 'pill' and other internal options are approved for the general public.

Now, I realize that I may be taking this reproductive control issue to an all-time new level, but this is a very serious topic to me- one that could change my life in ways I may not be comfortable with. Twice in my life I've had pregnancy scares, and my last girlfriend just delivered her baby girl, the father being the guy she dated after me.

So, my multi-part question to AskMeFi is: Is this a viable option for me to be considering? Would my sperm be safe enough in a bank that I know I could rely on it for insemination and permanently end my ability to conceive naturally? Are there any other angles on this that I'm missing?

Thanks much!
posted by id to Health & Fitness (26 answers total)
In my opinion it's not a good idea to end one's ability permanently : anything could happen, the bank could declare bankrupcy or your sperm could be lost or mishandled therefore damaged.

Additionally, the possibily of sexual disease transmission as you probably know isn't ruled out by sterilization.

So condom stills seems the best option even in monogamous relationship because it mecanically prevents sperm from reaching the eggs (in combination with female pill I guess it reached a 99,9% contraception success rate)
posted by elpapacito at 4:11 PM on July 31, 2005

Response by poster: Yeah, just to make sure everyone understands: I'm not even remotely considering this as a replacement to condoms. VD is another ballgame entirely, and I always use a condom with new and non-monogomous partners- anything else is just stupid.

Carry on!
posted by id at 4:27 PM on July 31, 2005

I don't understand the logic behind what you are doing, because the article you link to shows the complications arising from banking sperm.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:48 PM on July 31, 2005

Response by poster: MegoSteve: The article shows complications from banking sperm when another involved party (married-wife) has access to it without the consent of the donor/depositor.

In my situation, I'm sure I'll have a one-line pre-nup that would say something like: 'All sperm placed in sperm banks before the marriage is owned by id'. That would take care of that problem.

The linked article was just to show that trust between people can be broken, and a woman can make a very horrible decision affecting more than just her own life.

Again, this is about reproductive control. I agree with the law's interpretation that it's about the child- when it's my genes, it's my child, my responsibility. So, I want to control my gene's as tightly as I can.
posted by id at 4:57 PM on July 31, 2005

Why not look into other more advanced sexual practices? It is entirely possible (and not quite difficult) to learn to separate ejaculation from orgasm. The effect is actually quite nice, in that you experience full body orgasms that are out of this world -- and multiple ones at that! By recirculating the sexual energy, you increase your vitality, health and lots of other good stuff! I bet you would impress the chicks too!

Here is a great reference with techniques.
posted by dhammala at 5:00 PM on July 31, 2005

It's an interesting idea, but I don't see why you can't just use regular birth control methods. They are reliable, if used correctly. To do something so drastic so young could really screw you over in the future- some women will not be comfortable with the whole setup.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:04 PM on July 31, 2005 [1 favorite]

Dhammala, it's possible for sperm to be present in pre-ejaculate. So..
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:07 PM on July 31, 2005

You could always have the vasectomy and then adopt when you decide you want kids.
posted by rosethorn at 5:39 PM on July 31, 2005 [1 favorite]

IVF is not a minor procedure. You have to consider how your future wife would feel about having to load herself up with hormones and get stuck with a bizillion needles. Even then, it doesn't always work.
posted by jrossi4r at 5:43 PM on July 31, 2005

to echo jrossi4r, IVF is not an easy or cheap substitute for getting pregnant the old-fashioned way, so you'd be making a pretty big assumption now about what your (hypothetical future) wife may be willing to go through (physically, emotionally, and financially) down the road -- it's not like she'll just be able to use the ol' turkey baster to get pregnant on the first go or something. I sympathize with the pregnancy scare issue (trust me, practically everyone has at least one or two scares in their 20s!), but as long as you're using condoms with new/non-monogamous partners, and any long-term/monogamous partners are commited to taking resonsibility for birth control on their end as well, your unexpected-pregnancy-risk should really be pretty low.
posted by scody at 6:02 PM on July 31, 2005

Response by poster: Just as an aside, I just found this excellent resource.
posted by id at 6:03 PM on July 31, 2005

You may actually find it difficult to find a doctor willing to perform the operation in any case. Many doctors won't perform vasectomies on men who are under 30 and childless, and especially those who are unmarried/unpartnered. They figure those men are likely to change their minds after the fact, and don't want to be sued should that happen.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:03 PM on July 31, 2005

id, what are you talking about? Your question is very intelligent, but love and procreation are not. You are in your mid-twenties now, and may be producing viable sperm into your 60s or 70s. I hope that you don't find youself in love sometime in the future, wanting to have a baby in the natural way only to find yourself unable. Really give this more thought.
posted by snsranch at 6:28 PM on July 31, 2005

Whatever happened to reverseable vasectomies?
I saw a program probably 10 or more years ago about a reversible vasectomy technique, wherein the tubes are blocked by inserting a pellet in each. It's permanent, but if you later want to reverse the proceedure, a chemical can be used to dissolve the pellets.
Did this not get approved in the US? Was the program waxing prematurely and the technique later abandoned before it become widely available? Is it around but an uncommon specialised proceedure not offered by most surgeons?
posted by -harlequin- at 6:43 PM on July 31, 2005

Check out these infertility blogs to get some idea of what you would be expecting a future wife to do should you follow your suggested plan.

And I second the above post that said you will have a hard time finding a willing doc. We had three children and I still had to sign a paper when my hubby went for his snip.
posted by konolia at 7:04 PM on July 31, 2005

Oh yeah, to add more anecdotal evidence re: the difficulty in finding a willing doc -- I'm friends with a set of brothers who all felt very strongly in their 20s that none of them would want to have kids, ever. At least two of them looked into having vasectomies in both Canada and the U.S., and they couldn't find a good, reputable doc who'd do it for any price for an unmarried, childless man of that age. (Now that they're all in their 30s, they may have an easier time of it, but I get the sense that at least one of them may have changed his mind in the meantime anyway.)
posted by scody at 7:16 PM on July 31, 2005

Frankly, I am taken aghast by your question, and I think what you want to do is an abuse of a treatment developed for those involuntarily infertile. I know it sounds like I'm getting up my high horse here and forgive me if I'm out of line, but don't want there to be some humanity involved in the conception of your children - they're not items you just buy in the store!
posted by forallmankind at 8:05 PM on July 31, 2005

Jeeze, why are people giving this guy such a hard time?
In another metafilter thread several people had stories about how girlfriends would "forget" to take the pill to try get pregnant totry force the relationships. One other guy even said a girlfriend tried to keep the used condom. And there were some linked news stories posted about childsupport payment insues releated to this.

So maybe id just doesnt want to deal with that?
posted by Iax at 9:13 PM on July 31, 2005

forallmankind: did you miss this right below the comment posting field?

Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks.

Get off your high horse. He's talking about getting a vasectomy, not somehow abusing the involuntarily infertile.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 9:23 PM on July 31, 2005

I think if you want children and you, like most people, feel compelled to involve your own genes in their creation rather than doing the extremely socially fine thing of adopting, you shouldn't have a vasectomy.

Mine hurt like hell, by the way. But it was worth it. Then again I always knew for a fact I'd never, ever want kids, so the decision was easy.

Oh, and never rely solely on condoms for contraception. For some reason people no longer seem to get told how idiotic this is.
posted by Decani at 10:05 PM on July 31, 2005

Captain_Tenille: I honestly don't believe the purpose of IVF is to facilitate babies on demand, and my corollary point is that there are considerable moral and ethical issues arising from the question.

id asks if there are any other angles he is missing, and I believe this to be one of them.

Taking pot-shots at other users doesn't help people find answers either :-)
posted by forallmankind at 10:36 PM on July 31, 2005

A wee bit o'Googling brought me to this site about no-scalpel vasectomies, which seem to be less painful and potentially more reversible than those done with the knife. It also includes a list of doctors trained in the procedure, some of whom are close to you in Colorado.
posted by rob511 at 11:11 PM on July 31, 2005

Well, as someone who had a vasectomy at 24 because I was sure I wouldn't want kids, I can advise that after I met my wife, and later decided I did want a child with her - I looked at all the various options. IVF (using sperm directly taken from the testes) was problematic, expensive and has a low probability of success. Using frozen sperm would make it only less problematic, not affecting the other two factors. So, I had my vasectomy reversed. Much less expensive than IVF, and more fun to attempt conception.

Factors that affect the ability to reverse include how long it's been since it was done and whether your body has created antibodies against your own sperm. The reversal wasn't as quick or office based as the original vasectomy, but it is an option to have in the back of your mind - the vasectomy isn't truly permanent. But you seem to want it for essentially temporary contraception -so I think you might be taking it too far.

It is of course your body, and the procedure can be simple enough and fast enough that I am sure you will find a doctor to do it. I would spend much more time looking up those alternatives you linked to, and others if they exist, before you take that step.
posted by birdsquared at 11:30 PM on July 31, 2005

Wait. You use a condom, but you still want a vasectomy? I don't get it.
posted by ChasFile at 7:45 AM on August 1, 2005

I'm a woman who doesn't want kids, but I could see myself maybe kinda getting talked into it if I married a guy who was really committed to the idea.

But I would never in a MILLION years subject myself to IVF. I don't even take birth control pills because I don't want to deal with those hormones. I cannot imagine a guy telling me he wanted kids, but I'd have to go through that process to get pregnant.

Basically just echoing that you'd be limiting your future wife pool, I guess. (Assuming that you definitely want kids if you marry.)
posted by occhiblu at 11:35 AM on August 1, 2005

AFAIK, you should not count on any vasectomy being reversible. It may be in certain cases, but it's by no means guaranteed. additional, it's 'spensive. Again, this is only as far as I know. If somebody knows otherwise, I'm all ears.
posted by daver at 4:26 PM on August 1, 2005

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