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News / Health / Clark County Health

Making the cut at March Madness

Some men time a vasectomy and recovery to coincide with the NCAA’s tournament

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter
Published: March 12, 2018, 6:06am
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Vas Madness. Snip City.

Do men really rush to the urologist for vasectomies during March Madness? The motivation being a well-timed procedure allows for a few guilt-free days on the couch watching basketball while recovering from surgery.

Dr. Jason Smith, a urologist at The Vancouver Clinic, has a couple of men scheduled to undergo the sterilization procedure before the NCAA men’s basketball tournament kicks off later this week. But for The Vancouver Clinic, March isn’t historically a busy month. Some years, in fact, it’s the slowest, he said.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a mad rush,” Smith said.

But at practices elsewhere in the country, the March Madness-vasectomy connection is very real.

Urologists at the Cleveland Clinic noticed for years what appeared to be an increase in the days before tourney tip-off. Last year, they finally looked at the numbers and found a 10 percent increase in vasectomies during March Madness.

Athenahealth found that during the first four days of the 2016 tournament, urologists across its network of 173 practices performed 30 percent more vasectomies than they had during an average week.

And in Springfield, Ore., the Oregon Urology Institute has for a decade marketed its two-day vasectomy event, Snip City, as an opportunity for men to “Lower your seed.” The clinic has over the years offered its patients swag and the VIP treatment at a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings.

Ridgefield resident Steve Stuart heard about the March Madness-vasectomy connection years ago. So when he and his wife, Heather, decided they were done having children, Stuart knew he wanted to schedule the procedure to align with either March Madness or the Masters Tournament.

“I was 100 percent on board with taking responsibility for our reproductive future,” Stuart said. “But I had to get something for it.”

“If I’m going to do this, let’s do it right,” added Stuart, who is the Ridgefield city manager.

After his daughter Sophia was born in December 2016, Stuart scheduled his vasectomy for the morning of opening day of the 2017 basketball tournament.

Stuart booked himself a room at the Heathman Lodge for the weekend. That ensured he wouldn’t be tempted to shirk doctor’s orders to stay off of his feet in order to play with his kids, Sophia and brother Obi, 6. And the tournament all but guaranteed he wouldn’t get bored in front of the TV.

“It was me, a bottle of bourbon, a bag of frozen peas and basketball,” Stuart said. “It was perfect.”

Outpatient procedure

Vasectomy is surgical sterilization for men. While the procedure can be reversed, it’s considered to be permanent birth control.

“It’s very successful and much safer than other surgical sterilization for women,” Smith said.

Vasectomy procedures take just 20 to 30 minutes and are performed as an outpatient procedure in a medical office. The procedure requires only local anesthetic and recovery is fairly simple, Smith said.

To perform the procedure, urologists make a small incision or puncture in the scrotum and pull the vas deferens — the tube that carries semen from the testicle — through the opening. The urologist then cuts the vas deferens and seals the ends using clips or sutures. The ends of the vas deferens are then returned into the scrotum and the incision is closed.

About half of Smith’s patients take a Valium before the procedure to help them relax. Those who don’t take the drug can drive themselves home, Smith said.

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After the procedure, a patient is instructed to lay low — keep the feet up, ice the scrotum and avoid activity for three days, Smith said. A patient should avoid strenuous activity for one week, he said.

Resting during recovery is important, Smith said. Failing to do so can cause bleeding and, since the scrotum is a stretchy skin, there isn’t anything putting pressure on the area to stop the bleeding. That can lead to a large blood clot in the scrotum and pain, Smith said.

“The temptation is to go do your normal stuff, and guys are usually stupid about that stuff,” Smith said.

Stuart was able to avoid that temptation by scheduling his procedure to coincide with March Madness. The procedure, he said, enabled him to take responsibility for his and his wife’s reproductive health, while also giving him an excuse to kick back and watch basketball.

“It’s a scary procedure for a lot of guys for obvious reasons,” Stuart said. “To be able to tie it with something that’s fun, to be able to make it something that is, at least in part, something to look forward to instead of dreading, was a really good thing for me.”

Columbian Health Reporter