Hip to snip for March Madness?

Anecdotally at least, some patients schedule vasectomies to coincide with weekends of major sporting events.
Anecdotally at least, some patients schedule vasectomies to coincide with weekends of major sporting events. JEFF DURHAM - MCT

The link seems so obvious: March Madness and vasectomies.

The story is going around that men in large numbers are choosing to schedule the procedure during the NCAA basketball tournament – a perfect excuse, as if they needed one, to camp out in the recliner for a few days.

A bag of frozen peas (for the swelling) and a sympathetic wife, and you’re good to go. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, among many, yukked up the idea recently. (“There’s a great new way to make sure you don’t miss a game.”)

But is it true?

Dr. Jerome Parnell of Capital Urological Associates/WSP in Raleigh says it’s absolutely the case.

“There are several times when you can predict numbers will go up,” Parnell said. “March Madness is one, the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday, and then between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But this is by far the busiest time.

“They wear their team colors, too – if you know what I mean,” he said with a laugh.

Actually, the choice makes sense. There is a short recovery period with a vasectomy.

“Most men try to get them done on a Thursday or Friday, so they have some downtime and can go back to work on Monday,” said Ajay Nangia, associate professor of urology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, who performs about 120 vasectomies a year.

Doctors recommend patients stay off their feet for two days and use an ice pack, or a bag of frozen peas, to reduce inflammation. It’s a good idea for patients to refrain from strenuous activities the following week.

Nangia said he does perform more vasectomies at the end of the year, for insurance purposes. Patients schedule procedures before a new deductible kicks in.

He called the vasectomy-March Madness link “a good marketing strategy.”

Indeed, the Oregon Urology Institute in Eugene advertised for vasectomies before the basketball tournament. Its “Snip City 2010” campaign featured a Dick Vitale voice telling potential patients to “take care of the equipment and lower your seed for the tourney.” The free recovery kit included “a bag of frozen peas for those tender moments.”

The decision to have a vasectomy is serious, of course, and for most men the timing has little to do with what’s on TV. Nangia said men decide to get them done when they and their spouses or partners decide their families are complete.

But he doesn’t mind the hubbub.

“I like that this brings some awareness,” Nangia said.

About 520,000 vasectomies are performed annually, accounting for only about 11 percent of contraception used in this country, he said. Vasectomy is an outpatient procedure that takes about a half-hour.

Missed your opportunity in March? The Masters starts April 5.

-Staff writer Brooke Cain contributed to this report.