FertilitySex and SexualityTraditions & Celebrations

March Madness… the season to get snipped? Or… “How I survived my vasectomy and watched way too much basketball.”

It is the first weekend of Spring, a time when a young man’s fancy turns to matters of love. Or so the case may be in other parts of the world. In the good old USA the first weekend of Spring heralds a different obsession, March Madness, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. Predicting the results of this tourney has become such a phenomenon that The Source of All Knowledge even has an entry for the completely made up word “Bracketology” to describe the science behind millions of mostly non-basketball fans indulging in one of the most socially approved and widespread amatuer gambling activities in history. Which explains why many of your friends released a flood of expletives onto social media when the Mercer Bears upset perennial Final Four participant, Duke Blue Devils,The sad thing is, we have to wait until November to see Duke lose again ;( (a 78-71 shocker in the first round of the 2014 tournament for those of you reading this from the future), thus “busting” their “brackets” and making it even more likely that Phyllis from accounting, who picked her slate of victors based on how cute the mascots were, will walk away with this years office pool.

If the news is to be believed a new tradition has sprung up around this yearly orgy of roundball. And it also involves… balls. A google search of Vasectomies+March Madness reveals what appears to be a growing trend (maybe) of men scheduling the ultimate in male birth control to coincide with the opening weekend of March Madness. Considering that the first two days of Madness, Thursday and Friday, are workdays and the logic becomes clear. Why risk the opprobrium of one’s boss by faking an illness or reducing office productivity by working with ESPN open at all times on your desktop, just schedule a voluntary surgery that will require one to lie on the couch for a convenient 3-7 days of recovery? Ideally with a remote control in one hand and a refreshing malt beverage in the other.

So is it true? Do vasectomies “spike” in late March? Yes and no. According to the American Urological Association, in a statement to CNN,

“The AUA does not have data showing any link between March Madness and an increase in the number of vasectomies performed,”

Well that settles that then 😉

A rush to “cut the nets down” in March certainly makes for a good narrative. Many of the articles I found referred to this quote:

 “‘We do have (in March) typically about 50% more vasectomies than in other months,’ said Dr. Ed Sabanegh, chairman of the Department of Urology at the Cleveland Clinic.

This along with other anecdotal testimony from Urology clinic’s certainly adds to the public perception of a trend. Some have even used the myth to create a self fulfilling prophecy through advertising (a relic of the USA’s for profit medical establishment). The Urology Associates of Cape Cod even gave out free pizza!

The most common time is likely closer to the end of the year as patients try and finagle insurance coverage periods, but anything involving groin pain makes for a funny story,It works on so many levels! so it’s no surprise that the meme has legs.

I first came upon this story five years ago as The Girl and I prepared for the arrival in the early Spring of our third child, code named “The Grommet”. To be quite blunt, the Grommet was an “oops” baby. We had been so organized  with the first two kids, we simply took our birth control pills for granted as an effective method of fertility control. Both times it was simply a matter of stopping the pill, doing the deed with gusto and “einz, swei, drei” we made a baby. After two successful reproductions we figured we were done. The Grommet’s egg was determined to get fertilized however, and so took advantage of a narrow window of vulnerability brought on by a change in our birth control prescription. Soon we found ourselves preparing for one more trip to the maternity ward and I began contemplating more permanent measures to combat our obvious fecundity. To tell the truth I had completely forgotten the NCAA Tourney that year, although my Dad’s Xavier Musketeers had a pretty good run. I was simply scheduling around the blessed event figuring it would be an extended period in which neither of us would be having any fun with each others genitals.

If you are like myself and wish to join the ranks of the sterile, what do you have to look forward to?

  • In the US a vasectomy is a simple outpatient procedure covered by most insurance plans. Your regular doctor can probably direct you to a provider. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and is done with local anesthesia.
  • Does it hurt? FUCK YES IT HURT!!! For about 5 seconds it was the absolute most painful thing I’ve ever had done to myself on purpose, and I’ve had a metric shitload of dental work done. On the other hand, the doctor who did my procedure testified that my reaction was a rare case and most patients report some pain but far less screaming. I evidently alarmed several other patients with the screaming.
  • Recovery takes three to seven days, or until the Sweet Sixteen, whichever comes last. The first couple of days should be spent lying down as much as you can with an ice pack or some frozen veggies on your crotch. Wear a jock strap and avoid any strenuous exercise for about a week or so. Milk it as long as you think you can is my advice.
  • Complications are incredibly rare, although one should be on the lookout for  post-vasectomy pain syndrome. Five years later I still get a twinge now and again, nothing to really complain about. It is no where near as invasive or risky as a tubal ligation would be for your significant other.
  • Vasectomies are upwards of 99% effective. You will need a few months to clear all the sperm out of the system, so keep your other defenses up until that blessed day that you drop off a sample at the doctors office and get a result of “sterile”
  • Make sure you are ready to take this step because vasectomy reversals are less certain, more invasive and more expensive as well as not likely to be covered by your insurance.

Matt McCarthy of Deadspin, in his excellent piece on the subject found one quote that I must concur with and share:

One person I spoke with, a father of two who recently underwent the procedure, described it as, “five seconds of agony in exchange for forty years of relief.”

So good luck with your brackets this year my friends. And if you are one of the happy few who are “taking it to the hole” this Spring, then happy couch surfing. And throw out those peas when you’re done.

Featured Image Credit: The Iowa Clinic

Mercer Bears Image: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Man Getting Hit By Football GIF: The Simpsons Wiki





Louis Doench

Lou Doench is a 52 year old father of three. Twelve years ago he married the coolest woman in the world and gave up the lucrative career of being a photography student to become a stay at home husband and Dad, or SAHD. An atheist geek, or a geeky atheist if you prefer, Lou likes reading, photography, video gaming, disc golf, baseball and Dr. Who. He has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1976. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an excellent home cook, not that his children would know because they only eat Mac & Cheese. Follow Lou on Twitter @blotzphoto or check out his photography at www.flickr.com/photos/blotz/

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  1. I guess I was fortunate – I didn’t have the immediate excruciating pain. However, I had lingering pain for a while. I described it as feeling at though I’d been kicked in the balls about four minutes ago… for four days.

  2. Thanks for the warnings. This will one day be an experience I have, since it just makes sense, and is way more practical than a tubal ligation. Also, after all the pain of childbirth, I figure I’ll owe my wife some pain.

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