Every March, away from the basketball court, a different kind of madness begins. Whether it’s called U Vas Madness or carries a cool ad slogan like “it’s hip to get snipped,” it’s urologists’ one shining moment: vasectomy season.
And you thought only the nets got cut this time of year.
It’s a combination of things, really, that brings this about: For most men, personal timing and the sports calendar happen to coincide perfectly. And then there are the deals. A D.C. area man with four daughters won a free vasectomy in a contest sponsored by 106.7 The Fan’s Junkies. “We had Vasectomy Madness, so to speak,” Dr. Kelly Chiles, an assistant professor of urology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told The Post.
“If you’re a guy, no one wants to do it. We’re lazy,” Eric Bickel of the Junkies added. ” … But any excuse to sit around and watch TV works for most guys.”
At Obsidian Men’s Health in McLean, Va., you’d be a fool not to schedule a snip-snip the first week of the tournament and Dr. Marc Richman says, “We see a huge spike every year. It’s something that I’ve noticed ever since I was an intern and resident at North Carolina-Chapel Hill.” A concierge practice, Obsidian offers a spalike experience, with patients awake and watching the games on big-screen TVs. The recovery room, its website says, is “equipped with comfortable robes and slippers, flat-screen TVs with Netflix, cappuccino and top-shelf liquor. We’ll do everything we can to keep you comfortable after the procedure.”
At the University of Utah, March means all-hands-on with U Vas Madness running from March 16-31. Patients get a free recovery kit that includes a basketball-shaped ice pack and specialists adding extra appointments.
At NYU, Dr. Joseph Alukal, the director of male reproductive health and clinical associate professor of urology at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, told The Post that he prefers more of an outpatient surgical experience. “If a patient wants to bring an iPad or a phone to help him relax, that’s fine,” he said, “but I don’t want to have the distraction of having a TV on.”
That would be the absolute worst time for a buzzer beater.
Although the American Urological Association has no official stats on the matter, the Cleveland Clinic says it saw a 10 percent rise in the procedure during March Madness from 2014 through 2016, the Daily Mail reports, Alukal says about 500,000 vasectomies are performed annually in the U.S. and generally he has found that men start thinking about them around the first of each year and decide, conveniently, to get the procedure done just after Selection Sunday.
“Around the holidays, a lot of couples begin to talk about this and, at the first of the year, men are really thinking about it and start scheduling appointments to talk to me,” he said. “In New York, there’s a month-long waiting period, so they have the opportunity to change their minds so they have to start thinking about it just after the first of the year. A few years ago, I wiped my schedule and did 10 one day and 12 the next.” Now, though, he does about four a week, focusing on other procedures.
The actual procedure, Alukal says, takes him about “10 to 15 minutes” to perform. The patient is usually out in 45 minutes and Alukal advises two days of “being smart” with limited activity with an ice pack on the affected area. He also warns that patients should take it easy for another two weeks.
So a vasectomy is no big deal unless, of course, you’re the vasectomee. Obsidian’s website tells patients to “return home or to their hotel room immediately upon discharge and avoid strenuous activity or excessive walking for 48 hours. Use an ice pack 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off while relaxing in bed or on your couch for 36-48 hours. Expect mild bruising and swelling but pain should be minimal and easily controlled with Tylenol or your prescription pain medication.”
In March, it’s easy to just relax with games on TV all day and brackets yet to be busted. “Men can say, ‘doctors’ orders, I have to take it easy and sit on the couch for a couple of days,'” Chiles says, “’having beer and chips. It’s doctors’ orders: Be a couch potato.’”
The beer isn’t a problem, she adds, within reason and, of course, as long as the patient is not on narcotic painkillers (and most are not). No wonder the first week of the NCAA tournament is the perfect time to get this taken care of.
Chiles says that she did “several” vasectomies Wednesday and has had a couple more consultations. “Anecdotally,” she says she sees an increase in the procedure during March, with men beginning to call in February.
Dr. David Gilley, a urologist at Urology of Indiana, told Bob Kravitz at WTHR.com that “we absolutely make extra room for it. It’s a very popular time — now and at the end of the year when deductibles are met. It’s more than double what we normally do.”
Most men choose to have the procedure on Friday, getting a built-in excuse to curl up with an ice pack on a couch all weekend. Athena Research told Kravitz it saw a 41 percent rise in the number of vasectomies performed the first Friday of the tournament last year.
A patient can expect a certain amount of mild trash talking, too. “I’ve had patients show up wearing a Duke shirt not knowing where I’ve trained,” Richman, a devoted Tar Heels fan, said. “I laugh and tell them, ‘I can’t believe you wore that while I’m holding a sharp object next to your testicles.’”
Welp, laughter is the best medicine. Besides, Richman is an experienced doctor who has performed more than 3,000 vasectomies and has not been stopped even by power outages. A little thing like a rivalry isn’t going to stop him, he says, from putting “the patient’s well-being first.”
If all this has you thinking the window has closed on 2017, think again. There’s that whole “tradition unlike any other.”
“It’s not just March Madness,” Alukal said. “There’s the Masters, too.”
Richman says the spike isn’t just limited to the first weekend of the tournament and adds that he has “four or five” vasectomies scheduled for Masters Friday. In addition, his practice offers some Saturday appointments. “There’s a spike on bowl weekends and during football playoffs, too,” Richman said. At GW, Chiles said, “We aren’t seeing that” Masters spike, but the idea got her thinking. “Maybe we should base it on a person’s sport of choice, like World Cup.”