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I’m 19, and I Just Got a Vasectomy

There are about 50 million vasectomized males in the world, and yet, the average age of someone who’s had the operation is 37. It’s funny how a medical procedure that cuts off the flow of sperm to the testes is entirely associated with with nuclear family life — the sort of thing you do after you’ve produced a few kids and made partner. But that isn’t the case for this 19-year old college student we found on the ChildFree subreddit, who got his vasectomy done last winter. While he’s completely honest as to why, he’s asked to remain anonymous, because as you’ll read, he has yet to tell his family.

I’ve known that I didn’t want kids since puberty. There’s myriad reasons for that, and they’re all broad and complicated. I’m concerned about the future of this planet, and our quality of life in the years to come. It doesn’t feel right to welcome someone into a world I don’t have faith in, with no guarantee for civility and security. I’ve often wondered if I myself would’ve opted to be born. You know, if I had a choice.

But more importantly, and perhaps more selfishly, I can’t ever imagine caring for another human being just because they have the same DNA as me. When I was younger, the idea of having kids seemed like this unavoidable, impenetrable credence: Grow up, get old, start a family and die. But by high school I began to understand what I wanted out of life, and children didn’t factor into that equation at all. I consider myself a bit of a hopeless romantic, and one of the scariest things I hear is when new parents say something like, “I didn’t know what true love was until I held my baby!” I’ve always thought that to be such a hurtful thing to say to your significant other. I’d never want to tell my partner that, it’s just not the way I like to imagine love.

Which is fine, really. I’m 19 years old and am about to ship off to my second year of university. Most people around my age aren’t focusing on family, and it’s not something I worried about at all in my dating life until about a year ago, when I had a pregnancy scare. It freaked me out. Like honestly, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Everything ended up being fine, but it still made me realize how much I’d rather regret not having kids, instead of regretting a mistake I made in college. As a man, I don’t have much of a say in a pregnancy. That anxiety hung with me until about a month ago, when I scheduled my vasectomy.

Vasectomies are pretty much permanent, and I’m obviously a lot younger than the typical client. So when I made my appointment, I expected a certain amount of pushback or moralization from the medical staff. In my research on the matter, I found a lot of young people telling horror stories about their experiences about doctors not respecting their wishes. But to my surprise, that didn’t happen. I sent an email to the clinic, and gave no indication of my age or disposition other than my birthdate, which was included with other basic information. I met my doctor the same day of the operation; he realized I was 19, and asked me if I was sure this was something I wanted to do. I was solid in my answer, demonstrating no doubts or hangups, and that was it. No more questions. He was totally cool with it. The appointment was at 11 in the morning, and I was out and recuperating by 11:15.

The relief washed over me immediately. Yes, it’ll take a few more months until I’m completely sterile, but I’m so glad I got it done. It was like a weight was taken off my shoulders.

Right now, my vasectomy is something I’m keeping private. I don’t plan on telling my parents — though they know I don’t plan on having kids — and I’ve only disclosed my status to a one real-life friend. It’s not something I’m ashamed of, but it is very much my business.

As far as my romantic life goes, I’ve already updated my Tinder profile with a simple disclosure saying, “I don’t want kids, and I’ve taken steps to ensure that that doesn’t happen.” My matches will usually ask what I mean by that, and I’m transparent with them. I don’t think there’s any reason to be secretive about my vasectomy in those contexts. So far the reactions have been positive.

There was a moment before the operation where I considered preserving my sperm, as a failsafe to any later-in-life panic attacks about familial estates or other overblown notions of legacy. I decided against it though, because I really do feel that if anything changes, adoption is the way to go. There are so many kids out there looking for a home already on this planet, and I don’t really feel like my genes hold any particular importance or priority over them. In fact, given my own issues with anxiety, it might be for the best not to pass on those traits.

Maybe you still think I’m short-sighted or impulsive, but honestly, if you’re a legal adult, you can buy a house, you pay taxes, and most importantly, you have the choice to start a family. Someone my age should also be able to decide that that isn’t something for them. Yes, there are plenty of other non-permanent preventative measures for pregnancy, but when I read the horror stories of how something like birth control can mess with your nervous system, it seemed like a vasectomy is the easiest and most hassle-free solution.

In the future, I hope that other young people don’t deal with the same societal taboos that surround sterilization. Obviously it’s a deeply personal choice, but it’s not one that should be considered selfish or wicked. I’ve never really wavered on my decision to not have kids. So why take the chance?

—As told to Luke Winkie