Vasectomies are so personal, I’m making mine public – Part 2


Source: W. Kamau Bell,

I had to decide if I was afraid of the pain of vascectomy — yes; I was 100% afraid of the pain. When you are born with a penis and testicles, you learn early on how sensitive that area is and to protect it at all cost.

One of the weird bonding rituals of boys when I was a kid was constantly threatening to kick, punch, slap, cup check, or destroy each other’s twig and berries. And when someone did manage to render said violence, you would just collapse in a heap on the floor, slowly rocking back and forth, trying to stop the tears from rolling down your eyes, while choking out a forced laugh. Adult men engage in this behavior, too.

But again, I did some research online and talked to my wife’s friend’s husband: I learned that the entire surgery is about ten minutes, and the pain isn’t “that bad.” Obviously “that bad” is subjective, so I asked for a range. Currently, the worst pain I’ve ever had was a root canal (at a dental school). I was assured that this was closer to a “deep cleaning at the dentist” level of pain.

And after the surgery — how bad is that, and how many days would I be out of action? Well, apparently the reason that some guys have the surgery on Friday afternoon is so they can take the weekend off. And for many, the best prescription is ibuprofen and frozen peas: You don’t eat the peas, you sit on them.

Technically it can be reversed. But from what I’ve learned, it takes from two to four hours, requires general anesthesia, and worst of all it isn’t covered by my insurance.

There was also something else. Even though I knew this was a personal decision, I had to reckon with the fact that for some white people, one less sterile black man is a part of America being great again. But I know that if I always play into America’s narrative of blackness, then I wouldn’t really be living at all.

So, I went ahead with it. I scheduled the surgery. I chose to do it now because at the same time I was considering it, I was also working on a very special episode of United Shades of America in Jackson, Mississippi. It is an episode filled with mostly black women who, although they are well aware of the redness of their state’s politics, are unfettered in their struggle to make their state recognize each woman’s human, civil, and reproductive rights.

If those badass women can stand up in the face of all that, then I can lie down for a ten minute surgery.

And in an effort to get more men to talk about their private parts in healthy and helpful ways, we filmed the whole surgery — you can watch it right here.

Spoiler alert: It WAS way easier than a root canal.

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