ABOUT about 22 years ago I was interfered with genitally. This wasn’t shaming in a sexual way, but neither was it much fun.
Three was a full house and it was time for a display of male responsibility. So off to the hospital I went with my tallywags between my legs . That, by the way, was Victorian slang for testicles, or so I discovered the other day.
I don’t recall much about the small operation but the underwear has stayed in my mind. Green striped boxer shorts from Next. I was given a surgical gown and told to undress to pants and socks. Then I sat with other gowned men awaiting the same snip. My socks had a paisley pattern and the repeating shapes looked oddly like sperm, I thought, as I bowed my head and nervously awaited my turn.
When I reached the top of the quick-fix queue, a local anaesthetic was applied very locally to my scrotum. Then I lay back while the surgeon, body-bits mechanic or whatever, tugged, pulled and got out his scissors (other implements may actually have been involved; I didn’t look too closely).
After tea and biscuits, I walked the short way home. No problem. Manned up. Did what was required. Took it like a true male hero. Then the expansion began. Well, we won’t dwell on that swell. More than sufficient detail has been provided already. Let’s just say that the enlargement was enough to warrant a day off work.
I wrote a newspaper column afterwards about having a vasectomy, and only return to the matter now thanks to a new development. According to reports this week, a German engineer has invented a device that could make the male snip an operation of the past. It is a miniature switch that stops sperm from reaching the penis. This tiny on-off device is surgically implanted in a procedure said to last about half an hour, not much longer than a vasectomy.
With this modification, a man will be able to have the valve set to off, giving him the same level of infertility as a vasectomy. If he later decides he wants to become a father, he “simply locates the implant in his scrotum and flicks the switch back, allowing sperm to be ejaculated” according to the Daily Mail.
There are, it has to be said, potential problems. To date the only user of the device is its inventor, a German joiner called Clemons Bimek, who had the idea when watching a documentary on contraception.
He reportedly hopes to fund his invention through crowdfunding and aims to set up a trial involving 25 men early this year.
Another difficulty lies in the trust factor. As with all forms of male contraception, would women put their faith in a man who said his switch was off? No, according to the woman who directed me in a V-wards direction all those years ago.
Doctors are said to be divided over the valve, although there is one certain benefit: it avoids men later asking to have the operation undone. About a third of men want their plumbing put back to normal, and the reversal doesn’t always work.
Apparently a man fitted with the device could turn the switch on and off with a quick fumble. The proper name for this invention is a spermatic duct valve, although it has already earned the crude tag online of a “dick switch” – a term also in use to describe poor male behaviour towards women in American frat movies.
All this does raise the curious scenario of a couple having in an intimate moment, and the women suddenly deciding that yes, she does want a baby. And the man saying: “Well I shall just turn myself on then.”
Here’s another thought. After the VW emissions scandal, are people going to trust a German invention that is said to control a more personal sort of emission?