March Madness has arrived and Brad Sheely is joining the crowd this year.
Not the crowd of people filling out brackets (he does that annually). He’s joining the crowd of men who choose to get a vasectomy around the start of the NCAA Tournament so their recovery period can be spent watching the jam-packed college basketball schedule.
The 37-year-old Upper Arlington, Ohio, resident said he read about people doing this in the past and thought, “That’s a genius idea, and I decided to do it.”
“Around this time of year I tend to be posted up at a bar stool or sitting on my couch watching a lot of basketball anyways so I figured if I’m going to be stuck lying on the couch, I might as well time it up with something that’s going to cause me to be on the couch anyways,” Sheely said.
The correlation between the NCAA Tournament and an increase in vasectomies is something Dr. Greg Lowe, an OhioHealth urologist, noticed in his first year in practice, in 2011.
“I saw guys coming in in early January and specifically asking for dates in March,” Lowe said. “I was kind of amazed. It didn’t occur to me until they had very specific dates in mind.”
Lowe estimated that he does eight to 10 vasectomies a week during the NCAA Tournament, compared to six to eight on other weeks.
That mirrors the findings of a 2017 study from Athena Health, which found urologists in its network performed 30 percent more vasectomies during the first round of NCAA Tournament than during an average week.
A minimally invasive procedure and highly effective form of birth control, a vasectomy takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, said Dr. Lawrence Jenkins, a urologist and director of the men’s health program at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
After the procedure, Jenkins said he advises patients to take it easy for about two days, during which they should use ice to minimize swelling and bruising. That’s where sitting on the couch and watching basketball comes into play.
Vasectomies also represent a shift of the burden of contraception away from women and toward men, which is a good thing, Lowe said, regardless if someone decides to schedule their procedure around sports.
“The role for family planning and pregnancy prevention has traditionally been placed solely on women,” he said. “Anything that helps men start to consider their role in family planning is beneficial, and March Madness has helped do that.”
It also has led some men to scheduling vasectomies in the fall around the start of the NFL and college football seasons, Lowe said. Some men have specifically asked to schedule the procedure around the Cleveland Browns season-opener.
The most common time for vasectomies, both Jenkins and Lowe noted, is December as men seek to get the procedure done before their insurance deductible resets at the beginning of the year. Jenkins said he normally does around 30 vasectomies a month, but closer to 60 in December.
Sheely said he inquired about scheduling a vasectomy sometime in January and was told there were dates available in February.
He replied: “What about March?”