Financial Musings on my Vasectomy

by Darwin on April 28, 2012

cutThe time has come for one of us to do something permanent.  We’ve now got 3 kids, we’re mid-30s, and we’re done.  I failed miserably at trying to convince my wife she should have it done.  I found some new lacroscopic procedure that was supposed to be pretty painless and cut out the article, but she wasn’t hearing it.  She reminded me of the 3 creatures she pushed out already and said it was my turn.  So, after much ado, I’ve undergone the consult and have the snip to look forward to.  On my way back from the consultation, I had varying thoughts on the topic and since I haven’t seen a post like this on a personal finance site, I thought I’d ramble a bit (and try to tie it all to finance in some way):

  • The Cost To Us – Depending on your healthcare insurance (mine gets worse each year and my annual increase was insane this year), people would tend to pay varying rates of course.  In our case, I paid a $25 co-pay for the initial consultation and who knows what I’ll pay for the actual procedure?  We have some convoluted payment system now where there’s an individual deductible limit, and 80/20 component and then they always find a way to extract more money down the road with some errant bill for testing or some weird reason why part of the services weren’t covered.  So, at the end of the day, I’m guessing the whole ordeal would a few hundred bucks minimum.  I guess that’s cheaper than another 15 years of condoms OR a whoops!
  • Whoops! – Speaking of “whoops”, I’d heard of this before but apparently, the tubes can regenerate, reconnect or whatever even after initial sterilization.  So, they make you come back months later and drop off some sperm (or fluid really) and make sure there are no viable sperm.  On that though; and I found this to be interesting – the doctor said that if the tubes grow back, they would redo the procedure for free.  That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a offer like that in medicine.  See, medicine is so prone to litigation that usually any notion or a do-over implies some sort of malpractice, which opens them up to a lawsuit down the road.  Say you had some sort of cosmetic surgery and it came out looking like crap.  If they redid it for free, you could then sue using their offer as evidence of their screwup.  I assume this is probably commonplace for this type of procedure because if the body somehow reconnects the tubes (something like 1% of the time or less), it’s completely out of their control and it happens after their work was completed.  Just thought I’d share the only freebie I’ve ever heard of in medicine.
  • 2nd Thoughts?  I had to sign a waiver that I fully understand that the procedure is meant to be permanent.  Evidently, men sometimes find themselves in some sort of life situation where they want to have the procedure reversed (like when they marry a hot young second wife who wants kids or whatever).  I don’t have concerns there so I consider it to be permanent, even though it can be reversed (but no guarantees hence the waiver).
  • Societal Cost of Birth Control (or Lack Thereof) – Several weeks ago there was a big hoopla in the news over whether women should have contraception covered by health insurance and that somehow turned into “men controlling what women can do with their bodies”.  Umm, actually it was about whether men and women should have to pay for someone else’s birth control.  As annoying as it may sound to have to reimburse someone else’s sex, from a societal standpoint, it seems to be quite cost-effective.  Same with abortions.  While I find abortions of convenience (which most are; but I have no criticism of the health risk cases, rape, other situations) to be morally repugnant, the reality is that financially and societally speaking, legalized abortion (and probably their funding/subsidization) is actually beneficial to society on many levels.  If you haven’t read the shocking study outlined in Freakonomics, the premise (and he has the data to back it up), is that due to the passage of Roe v. Wade, we saw a subsequent drop in violent crime (from unwanted children that were never born – who have a higher propensity to end up committing crimes in their late teens onward) which in turn yields benefits from lower incarceration rates (which taxpayers fund), to all the other funding unsuccessful Americans draw on taxpayers.  It’s a complex argument and you can’t often put a price on your own ethical or religious beliefs, but the numbers speak for themselves.
  • The Cost of NOT Being Sterilized – There are varying estimates of what a kid costs to raise and I tend to believe you “fit” spending per child into your life situation.  Huh?  This means if you’re pretty wealthy you’ll tend to spend a lot more than the government per-child estimates and if you’re poor you’ll spend less.  Additionally, a 4th kid to us would be MUCH less expensive than our first.  It’s incremental.  We have 2 boys and a girl, so either way, there would be plenty of clothes and toys to hand down and heck, we’d even have free babysitting down the road at this point.  However, college is a big one.  My 529 plan strategy has me planned at over $100,000 per kid in today’s dollars.  So, right now I’m saving for essentially another house (~$300,000) so I can put my kids through college someday since I’m not counting on any aide or scholarships.  I’m guessing over the first 21 years, with the $100,000 for college and probably at least another $100,000 for even an incremental child, a whoops would cost us over $200,000 easy.  That’ll make you think twice about unprotected sex, right?
I could go on, but these money-related thoughts were just the tip of the iceberg as I drove home from my consultation, aside from laughing to myself that the doctor actually used the word, “ball-sac” in the office.  I kind of smirked when he used the word for the third time; I just figured he’d use something a little more…scientific to describe that part of the anatomy?  But anyway, as unpleasant as it may be for a few days, my wife continually reminds me that it pales in comparison to childbirth, so I’ll tough it out!

Do You Have Any Financial Musings Related to Children, Sterilization or Population Topics?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Financial Samurai April 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Hmmm, interesting topic. In all seriousness, why not just pull out, or have sex not during the 2 week fertile period? Keeps your options open if you change your mind.



Darwin April 29, 2012 at 8:37 am

So, we have multiple friends that had said they were done having kids and then… whoops! I can only assume they were using the same methods as well (I didn’t ask, “What, you didn’t pull out!?!”) Going back to health class days, apparently, even though it’s “most likely” to impregnate during a couple-day period, apparently it’s possible to happen at any point in the month because the egg or sperm can hang around for a while or something. Same w pulling out; apparently some viable sperm can come out early? I dunno, I’m no fertility expert, but the results speak for themselves – if you have a lot of friends with kids, probably at least a few of them had unplanned pregnancies.


smiling old-timer April 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Since my vasectomy in 1959, my life has been like John Wayne-Clint Eastwood-Gary Cooper cowboy shoot-em-up movies – plenty of action, lots of shots fired, yet nobody got hurt during all those wonderful years.


Darwin May 2, 2012 at 7:39 am

That was classic! Thanks for sharing.


smiling old-timer April 29, 2012 at 8:29 pm

P.S.: My two sons, born in 1952 and 1954, are prosperous and nearing retirement themselves. I enjoy my two grandchildren, who have plenty of college money from grandpa if they need it.


101 Centavos April 30, 2012 at 7:03 am

Congratulations on the prospective membership to the Gelding Club. I tried to go take the tube-tying route too w/ the Mrs., and had similar failure. The pushing-out-watermelons argument is tough to beat.

With 3 kids, you’ve already done your patriotic bit at maintaining national demographics, it’s now time to take a break.


Darwin May 2, 2012 at 7:40 am

Gelding Club…Interesting club! Yeah, I’m past the proverbial 2.3 kids or whatever right? How patriotic!


TB at BlueCollarWorkman April 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Vasectomy = great idea. No worries, no paying for any kind of birth control once it’s done. It’s an everyone wins situation. Good choice! ANd good luck!


Darwin May 2, 2012 at 7:41 am

That’s true; from an out of pocket standpoint, I hope this to be ROI positive for the family.


krantcents April 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

The vasectomy is easy, a reversal, I understand is a big deal.


Darwin May 2, 2012 at 7:41 am

I hope to never find out :>


Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog April 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Interesting thoughts – usually people see decisions like this purely as “emotional” and not financial or whatever, but it’s good to see a breakdown. and the comment from smiling old timer was hysterical.


Darwin May 2, 2012 at 7:42 am

And I didn’t even touch on religion! (lots of people would judge while doing it themselves later in life)


Joe @ Retire By 40 April 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Can you save some sperms just in case? I don’t know much about this and haven’t thought about it much either. We are not planning to have another kid so maybe I should look into this.


Darwin May 2, 2012 at 7:44 am

Good question; I actually thought of that and asked the doctor. He kind of cocked his head and said, “Why would you want to preserve sperm if you want this to be permanent? Are you sure you want to do this?”. I said yes, but I’m a planner and like flexibility/contingencies when possible. He said none of his patients ever do this. So, it seems to make sense to me logically, but evidently, in practice, once you decide you’re done, you’re done, even if science could have provided a backup.


Linda May 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I linked over here from 101 Centavos because I really wanted to read a guy’s perspective on permanent sterilization. Thumbs up to you! The PF twist is unique, too.

The timing of your post also attracted to me. I wrote something recently about my experience with surgical sterilization. Besides the obvious gender difference between us, I have to ask: did your doctor ask you to have your wife come in to talk with him first? That was the most enraging part of the procedure for me. Yes, I had to sign a lot of forms too, but my doc wouldn’t schedule the surgery until she’d first talked to my husband. (!!!) It was as if Chicago was one of those countries where women have to have their husbands/fathers/brothers accompany them everywhere.

Anyway, kudos to you again for really taking family planning seriously. If you’d like to read about my experience you can do so here:

P.S. Should I feel odd that I’m the only woman who commented here so far, or do you find that’s usually the case with your blog posts?


May Peterson April 20, 2013 at 5:15 am

Hi Linda,

Now I’m the second woman to comment in here. I find Darwin’s post truly entertaining. Come to think of it, if I were in his wife’s shoes, I’d say the same thing.

In our case, the vasectomy didn’t come as a recourse to prevent additional pregnancies. It was rather really planned because we wanted to stabilize our finances first before having a child. So it was with the consent of us both.

Anyway, we had the big V for several years and we enjoyed those times. When we felt that we were already financially prepared to have children, it was the best time to consider a reverse vasectomy. At first, we were in a quandary as to who will do the reversal because we have heard a lot of horror stories of men not being able to impregnate even after the reversal. Thankfully, a friend, whose husband had a successful reversal, referred us to their doctor, Dr. Wilson (OK) He’s a good guy and you can feel that he is out to help couples to feel the wonders of parenthood. I guess that stems from his being a Christian. His site is this info might help other couples out there, the same way it has helped us.

Anyway, my husband and I believe that a vasectomy is the best form of contraception out there.

@Darwin, I salute you. Getting the big V will certainly make your wife love you more! 🙂



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