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The question

My partner and I have lived together for 13 years and have two children. He's 20 years older than me (I'm 37) and we agreed after our second child (who's 10 now) that our family was complete. We're both satisfied with the choice. The question became what form of birth control to use. I thought a vasectomy was a natural choice but he hates the idea. So I used an IUD. However, after 18 years of various forms of birth control, I decided my body needed a break. For the past two years we used condoms, which had a negative impact on our sexual life. Not only has it decreased spontaneity but by the time we're ready to keep it going, unwrapping the packet and placing it on can kill the mood. What to do?

The answer

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I hate condoms. It's like trying to kiss someone with your head in a sack.

Speaking of sacks, I do have an opinion on your situation. But I stress I'm no Dr. Ruth, it's one man's opinion only – a private citizen – and men: Prepare to wince and squirm and adjust your positions in your chairs.

From what you've told me, I think he should get a vasectomy (a.k.a. "the dreaded procedure"). I'm very pro-snip. I got one after our third kid. It was not really that much of a biggie. It was the best move I ever made, in fact.

Of course, I understand perfectly well the objections, and why men drag their heels. It was not pleasant, for example, to look down during the procedure to see a puff of black smoke rising from my testicular region.

In fact I urge those who do undergo this procedure not to look down at all. I mostly stared at the ceiling throughout, babbling to the doctor (at least I hope he was a doctor. Just joking – he was).

In the roll-up to the procedure, men will tell you horror stories, like campfire tales, practically shining a flashlight under their chins. They tell stories of men who underwent the dreaded procedure and were never the same. Of the guy at work whose testicles swelled to the size of grapefruits! My cousin heard of a guy who was in pain the rest of his life!

And, wild-eyed, they will ask: "What if you change your mind?" What if, for example, the woman you got it done for dumps you and you meet a hot young babe who's desperate for kids? What then, numb-nuts? (A painful, expensive, and not-always-successful counter-procedure.)

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Then once you get it done you have to endure jokes about getting "fixed." Just to clarify: A vasectomy is not a form of medical castration. You continue to produce sperm, it just no longer shoots out the end of your Johnson. In fact, many of us vasectomees believe it actually super-sizes our mojo, since the sperm is absorbed into the bloodstream.

And it's the gentlemanly thing to do, IMHO. Scared, I stalled for a long time, but then we had a couple of pregnancy scares, until finally my wife said: "Oh, for God's sake, I'll just get my tubes tied."

But that's a major operation, and I thought: "I may be a jerk but I'm not that big a jerk." So I sacked up and got 'em snipped.

I'm not allowed to write about my own sex life, but tell your partner to look at it this way: It's a ticket to a lifetime of worry-free sex.

Maybe even help him picture it. Maybe, to "incentivize" him, tell him if he does this terrible thing for you, there'll be morning glories, afternoon delights, quickies in the kitchen – the works.

He should do his research first. It's not just campfire tales. There are a very few cases where it goes wrong – where the pain never goes away and so forth.

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And that's not an area of our anatomies where men like to think about things going wrong. We men are very particular about that particular area of our anatomies. We're attached to it, you could say. (It may be apocryphal, but I heard that Second World War Italian pilots flew with helmets in their laps because "who cares if they blow your head off?")

He has to decide for himself he's done with kids, and will have no regrets if you split up and he winds up with a trophy wife who's dying to have her eggs fertilized – to know in advance he can live with that scenario.

It is a terrific gesture of monogamy – more so, I feel, even than a ring and ceremony. So if he does do this terrible thing for you, please promise him, and me, you'll make every effort to stay together after.

What am I supposed to do now?

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