Plenty of people plan their their lives -- or at least their television viewing habits -- around March Madness. The NCAA Basketball Tournament is a magnet for die-hard fans, casual fans, people who dislike sports but enjoy buffalo wings and pizza, people who just want to see how their brackets are doing... and men who want vasectomies.
According to Dr. Puneet Masson of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, "There's actually a huge uptick during March Madness. I would say I see triple the numbers. People book this months in advance. We call it Vas Madness."
It may seem surprising to find a correlation between the tournament and a higher rate of vasectomies, the link also makes sense: Discharge instructions basically involve sitting around for two or three days and periodically applying ice to the, um, affected region. (You may have cringed when you read the "apply ice" part, but trust me -- ice is definitely your friend.)
So if you planned to spend the weekend watching basketball anyway... why not multi-task?
According to Dr. Masson, vasectomies also spike (I know, poor choice of words) just before Thanksgiving and in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
The trend may have started some years ago when the Oregon Urology Clinic ran a radio ad promoting the benefits of scheduling a vasectomy in March.
(Yes, the campaign really was called "Snip City: Lower Your Seed!")
"You go in for a little snip-snip and come out with doctor's orders to sit back and watch nonstop basketball," the ad said. "If you miss out on this, you'll end up recovering during a weekend marathon of Desperate Housewives. That's painful."
Another surprise, at least to me, is the difference between men and women where sterilization rates are concerned.
Even though the procedure is faster, safer, more reliable, less invasive, and costs less than female sterilization, only approximately 10% of men get vasectomies... while approximately 30% of women get tubal ligations.
How does that make sense? A tubal ligation is an operation. A vasectomy is a quick snip. I walked into my doctor's office, lay on the table, got a local anesthetic ("little sting" my ass), chatted with the doctor about the rising cost of malpractice insurance (hey, he brought it up, not me) and in about fifteen minutes, boom. Done.
The only uncomfortable moment was when the nurse walked in while I was lying on the table and my pants were, literally, down. Oh, and when the doctor grabbed what appeared to be a soldering iron and cauterized the ends of my now-snipped vas deferens. Seeing small puffs of smoke will definitely make you go, "Hmm..."
Afterwards I sat around the house for two days, made friends with the ice bag, walked like a cowboy fresh off the range... and that was it.
The point? Men: If you and your spouse are done having kids, man up. Get a vasectomy.
It's no big deal -- in my case, literally -- and if you time it right, for a few days you have the perfect excuse to sit back and watch a lot of ball.
Thanks to some savvy marketing, you won't be the only one.