A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What's the best way to sterilize myself without telling my wife?

June 28, 1996

Dear Cecil:

What's the best way for a male to sterilize himself without his betrothed's knowledge? I'm not so hot to have kids, but the little lady is — the sooner the better, and a whole litter of 'em if she has her way. So surgery is out of the question; she'd divorce me. I've thought about routing around the safety mechanism on my microwave oven so that I could cook my family jewels for maybe five seconds every few days, but something tells me that would produce adverse side effects. A friend suggested sitting on a heating pad at work, because sperm need to be kept slightly cooler than body temperature to stay viable. But I'm not sure the desired sterility would last all that long. So what's the safest, most effective way to sterilize myself?

Cecil replies:

Have you tried "headaches"? It worked for my mom.

From a technical standpoint, there probably are ways you could sterilize yourself without arousing immediate suspicion. For example:

  • Blunt trauma. Maybe a war wound a la Jake Barnes. You know, visit Bosnia or something. If you can't afford the airfare, you could always get a hammer.
  • Disease. You could try getting a disease that results in inflammation of the testes and scrotum, thereby causing sterility. You had the mumps? If that's out, my pen pal Camilla cites Merck's Medical Manual: "Epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of the epididymis and testis) may be a complication of urinary infection with prostatitis or urethritis, a sequela to gonorrhea, a complication of prostatic surgery or as a result of infection secondary to an indwelling catheter." Enough to get you started.
  • Surreptitious surgery. You could tell her you're going fishing. For a month. Then find a surgeon specializing in inconspicuous vasectomies. The stitches drop out after about three weeks.

Ingenious though these stratagems are, none of them addresses your long term problem: she wants kids and you don't. Even if you succeed in sterilizing yourself on the sly, it will surely dawn on your wife at some point that she's failing to get pregnant. So it's off to the fertility clinic. Suppose you had a clandestine vasectomy. The doctor orders some tests. He reports: "Goodness, folks, the mister here doesn't have a low sperm count — he has no sperm count."

Even if you tap-dance past that problem, what if she wants to adopt? At some point you're going to have to confront the issue. Save the both of you a lot of trouble and call off the engagement now. She can find somebody who'll give her babies, and you can get a dog.

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