Making the Cut

Joining this men's club isn't all bad

click to enlarge A vasectomy, thanks to the author's health insurance in patriarchal Utah, ended up costing about $50.
A vasectomy, thanks to the author's health insurance in patriarchal Utah, ended up costing about $50.

"You did a very good job shaving your testicles. You could be a professional."

As far as compliments go, I'd never heard that one before. The fact that it was coming from a man I'd only met once before, briefly, made me wonder if it was even truly a compliment, or if the guy was simply busting my balls (so to speak) about my first true manscaping effort.

The fact that he turned to the four women surrounding him and pointed out my precise razor work as an example for others assured me I'd truly done good in my home preparation for this trip to the urologist. Usually the only positive comments I get at doctor appointments are things like "your body-mass index isn't the worst I've ever seen" or "so you found our office OK," so any compliment is welcome. This one, coming as my nether regions were elevated and exposed to everyone in the room, helped me relax before my imminent vasectomy, especially as my mind wandered to careers where testicle-shaving might be a profitable pursuit. I was about to start looking for a job in Spokane and had no idea what the job market was like.

It was almost three years ago exactly when I went under the knife — more like a soldering iron, really — to end any chance of having children in the future (at least to the degree that vasectomies are mathematically effective). I hadn't really considered the fact that getting this procedure at the University of Utah's teaching hospital would mean three extra 20-something female students looking on as the doc and nurse did the deed.

Unlike many Utah vasectomy patients, I wasn't making the decision after having sired many, many children. That's probably why the doctor asked "are you sure?" several times before injecting a numbing agent into my scrotum — easily the most painful part of the procedure. No, mine was a preemptive strike considered with my partner as we prepared to move in together whenever I landed a gig in Spokane. She already had children, and I wasn't interested in becoming a father for the first time in my 40s, so it wasn't a difficult choice.

When a vasectomy first came up in conversation, it was surprisingly casual. We were in Venice Beach for a weekend during the winter, one of those meet-up getaways you have to do when you're in a long-distance relationship. I mentioned I was thinking of getting a vasectomy. She mentioned she would soon have to replace her IUD. A little number-crunching showed a new IUD might cost upwards of $1,000. A vasectomy, thanks to my awesome health insurance in patriarchal Utah, would end up costing me about $50. I'm not a financial planner, but this was easy.

It was several months before I could get an appointment, and during that time I found out many of my friends had undergone the procedure, too, and had some great advice to share. Bags of frozen peas instead of ice cubes to fight post-surgery swelling, for one. Forget the doctor's advice to wear a jockstrap to keep everything snug after surgery, for another; baggy shorts work just fine.

I also found out from my mother that my dad, who died about six months earlier, had a vasectomy after I was born, so suddenly I had a new bond with the man — albeit kind of a weird one, and one I wouldn't be sharing with another generation. ♦

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About The Author

Dan Nailen

Dan Nailen is the managing editor of the Inlander, where he oversees coverage of arts and culture. He's previously written and edited for The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly, Missoula Independent, Salt Lake Magazine, The Oregonian and KUER-FM. He grew up seeing the country in an Air Force family and studied...