Why I Got a Vasectomy at 21

Yep, you read that right. When I was 18, I decided I did not want to cause a pregnancy, under any circumstances, or at any point in my life. I revisited this decision consistently, until I finally went through with it and got a vasectomy, at 21, which is the youngest age at which anyone will perform the surgery. A great deal of care and consideration went into the decision; There was no coercion involved. So why did I choose this route?

 

First, I know the ridiculousness of birth control access for cis women. Our politicians are constantly trying to strip the rights of women to choose when and if they have children, whether through the forced sterilization of people of color and Native Americans (which is still happening), or through the denial and demonization of the right to have an abortion or use birth control. For a woman my age, even one who is very privileged, birth control is a nightmare to access—especially with a minefield of doctors who think they know your body better than you do and only offer a select few options they prefer. And the nightmare only gets worse, because if you go to Planned Parenthood, chances are you’ll also have to fight through “protestors” who will scream at you, and call you a baby murderer to get inside, even if you’re only going in to be screened for cervical cancer. Sadly, even if the location doesn’t even perform abortions, you may have to deal with crowds of woman-hating zealots. And, once you do get birth control, it may be unpleasant and have side effects, something many doctors won’t even help with.

Second, in all honesty, pregnancy itself in our world isn’t something I’d wish on my worst enemy. From complications with health care/doctors to the overwhelming pressure to be a perfect parent to strangers touching you and asking you invasive questions about your personal life, it’s awful. I’ve sat with my friends through countless panic attacks because of missed periods and their possibilities of pregnancies. I’ve been with them while they take test after test, to make sure they aren’t pregnant. I’ve seen phantom pregnancies, and all the panic and pain surrounding them.  I’ve seen people forced to drop their lives to help take care of a child that wasn’t even theirs, just because that was what was expected of them as a woman and member of that family. I’ve heard stories of women who were forced to get C-sections because the doctor was impatient and wanted to go home. I’ve heard how women are abused and taken advantage of during or after they give birth. Obstetric violence is alive and well, even in America. Utah in particular has high rates of said violence, and I don’t want anyone to have to go through that, much less someone I love and care about.

Third, because I was sure that I did not want to raise a child in this world. I don’t believe I will ever be emotionally and mentally prepared for that; sometimes I can barely take care of myself. Even if I do manage to achieve that stability, I’d rather help a living child who’s already in this world than bring in another. There are hundreds of children up for adoption, and there is a great population of homeless teens, especially in Utah. Many families here forcibly kick their LGBTQ+youth out of their homes, and I think I could do a lot more to help if I dedicated myself to a problem like that, rather than have children myself.

In favor of a world where I have a biological child, people will shower me with compliments, telling I’m “special” and “smart,” and deserve to pass on said characteristics to a future child. But the reality of the matter is that genetics matter far less in determining talent and capability than opportunities do. No matter what genetics they have, a child who has been training under expensive tutors from birth is going to be better at taking tests and getting through school. I’m under no illusions that my genes are unique and worth preserving, they’re (at most) about as valuable as the other 7 billion in existence. I want to help children learn and grow, and I want to give them the opportunities I’ve been lucky to have, but I don’t care about biological relations to me.

Besides these aforementioned reasons, this decision is motivated by a want to flip the script, and a want to encourage men to take part in planning a family (or planning not to have a family). Why is it that women are expected to do all the work to prevent pregnancy? Even if the mountain of misinformation about abortion was true, (it’s not) why is it that only women are attacked for having abortions? As the adage goes, “it takes two to tango.”

All in all, it’s much easier for me to get birth control than it is most people around me, and white men are rarely held responsible for, well, anything. I knew I wanted to have sex in my life. I also knew I never wanted to be the cause for the pain that surrounds unplanned pregnancies and pregnancy scares. Furthermore, I knew I never wanted to cause a pregnancy under any circumstances.

So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I educated myself about the process and asked my doctor about it. He was surprised, worried, and confused, and told me that no one would do that until after I’d had children or was at least 30 years old. So, I went in to my local Planned Parenthood just days later. I was told “come back when you’re 21.” I did so, and at 21, I had the surgery. It was relatively simple, the process was explained to me several times over, even though I had already read about the procedure. I was asked repeatedly if I knew what I was doing, and if I was sure this was the route I wanted to take. I explained the reasons outlined above (the short version), and was given the health care I asked for. They also gave me a Capri Sun and brought a fan into the room to keep me cool, and we had a nice long conversation throughout the procedure, which, while rather incongruous, was very pleasant. They made sure everything was okay, and I was on my way.

Now, imagine if a cis woman in my exact circumstances were to seek a sterilization procedure. Picture the sheer wall of opposition she’d have to face—the opposition that women all over the world DO face, every day.

I made this choice, and I will not ignore the amount of privilege I needed in order to do so. Most don’t get any choice, some are forced to be sterilized against their will. Everyone should have the right to do what they want with their body, and that includes the right to have and parent children. This obviously isn’t the choice for everyone, but it was for me, and I have no regrets. I also invite everyone to become more educated on the subject, visit Planned Parenthood’s website and you’ll find answers for any questions you have.

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