Well, zip me out of that snip… thoughts on the V-word…

Yesterday the Daily Mail front page had a blurb saying that it was every husband’s duty to have a vasectomy. This made me wonder if I should have mine reversed just to spite the Mail.

Then this morning, a glance online reveals that today’s front page of the Mail warns: “Why the snip was the cruellest joke.”

This is a typical bit of Mail flailing about, saying one health thing and then going off and saying the opposite. The original article was by a staff writer who’d had a vasectomy after having three children, feeling that it was his duty and responsibility to his wife (and fair enough).

Today’s riposte sees men complaining that they wish they’d never had one, with sample headings saying: “Left me in agony for 20 years”, “The op made me go right off sex” and “It failed – and we had a fifth baby.”

I did glance at a supposedly serious medical story online in which a man said it wasn’t natural as it was like tying a knot in a fire-hose and could only lead to trouble. I make no comparisons between myself and a fire-hose, but feel that this concern can safely be dismissed.

Vasectomies are in the news because there has been a dramatic decline in men having the snip – reportedly down 60 per cent in the past ten years. Bad publicity seems to be to blame, with men being put off by scare stories and worries about their sex life. Allied to such fears are cuts in NHS funding for the procedure. Yes, the snip has been snipped.

I had mine after three children and a strong suggestion from my wife. This was 23 or 24 years ago and I have no complaints (not in that department; other complaints are available by appointment). I wrote a column about having a vasectomy at the time, and that caused some comments

It is fair to say that I was apprehensive when I went for the mini-op. A vasectomy in truth involves no snipping, more a spot of soldering, and I seem to recall a passing smell of burning. There was also an undignified degree of tugging in the anaesthetised area.

The details are blurred now, although I do also remember the hospital gown, and wearing Paisley-patterned socks with what in that moment seemed to have a sperm-like design. I wore loose boxer shorts that suffered some incidental post-op blooding and had to be thrown away.

There was a fair bit of swelling afterwards. I had a day off work, and walked like John Wayne for another day or two.

In thinking about this, I remembered that the journalist Michael Parkinson had a vasectomy a long time ago, and often used to talk about this. I looked this up and Parky did indeed have one, even giving an interview in 1972 to the first edition of Cosmopolitan in which he described a vasectomy as “the most beautiful thing a man can do for a woman” – or at least he said so in the headline.

Another memory insists that the chat show host used to wear a tie advertising the fact, although evidence to back this up cannot be found. There was a design of some sort, unless it was that the tie had the end snipped off.

Some men like to keep their tackle intact, as it were, in case of later-life romance with a younger woman. But I was happy to surrender my reproductive capabilities. Women spend so much of their lives worrying about their bodies that it seems only fair for men to do their bit.

So, no, I won’t be unzipping that snip, whatever panic the Daily Mail stirs up or doesn’t stir up, depending on the day of the week.

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