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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? --Tim, Dallas

Well, you could always try having headaches. It worked for my mom.

Seriously, are you serious? Having consulted with my advisers, I suppose there are ways you could sterilize yourself without arousing immediate suspicion. For example:

Blunt trauma. How about 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 big 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 sequella to gonorrhea, a complication of prostatic surgery or as a result of infection secondary to an indwelling catheter." I figure this should be enough to get you started.

Surreptitious surgery. You could tell her you were going fishing. For a month. Then find a surgeon specializing in inconspicuous vasectomies. The stitches drop out after about three weeks.

Having endeavored to help you out in a man-to-man kind of way, bub, I now feel obliged to point out that you're out of your freaking skull. Even assuming one of the above stratagems were to work, you think your wife's going to have sex with you on a regular basis and somehow not notice she isn't getting pregnant?

Whether or not she suspects you, she may want to go in for fertility testing. Maybe you can find some oblivious male doctor (not hard) who thinks it's all her fault, but eventually she's going to insist on getting a guy with a clue.

Let's 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." So the truth will out.

Even if you contrive to 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 get divorced now. She can find somebody who'll give her babies, and you can get a dog.

YOWSAH! THE STRAIGHT DOPE IS NOW ON-LINE!

If you thought the on-line thing was hot before, wait till you get a load of this: the Straight Dope is now on America Online. Features of interest:

Original art by Slug Signorino. The pulsating brain you gotta see. The severed spinal cord is also a nice touch.

Current and classic columns. The current column is posted the Monday following its appearance in the paper you're now reading. A new classic column is posted daily, Monday through Friday. The past few months' worth columns are posted in date order so you can catch up on what you've missed after missions abroad.

Searchable Straight Dope archive. Now 300 questions, eventually the entire collected works. Copies are being stored on multiple sites for survivability in the event of nuclear war.

Message board. Post questions, hobnob with the Teeming Millions. I've been dealing with these people alone long enough.

You get the picture. Dial in now--AOL has surely sent you one of their disks--and see what everybody will be talking about Monday morning. Keyword: Straight Dope. To obtain AOL software call 800-827-6364 and ask for special offer 37740.

--CECIL ADAMS

Is there something you need to get straight? Cecil Adams can deliver the Straight Dope on any topic. Write Cecil Adams at the Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611, or E-mail him at cecil@chireader.com.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration by Slug Signorino.

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