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Antonio Cromartie and the Science Behind Vasectomy Fails

Generally speaking, everything about Antonio Cromartie’s ability to reproduce seems impossible. In all, he has 14 kids — six with his wife Terricka and eight others with a number of different women. There are so many Cromartie children, in fact, that he famously struggled to remember all their names during a 2010 episode of Hard Knocks. (And that was long before his brood had grown as large as it is today.)

The most impossible thing about all of this, though, might be the most recent additions to the Cromartie family — twins that arrived in 2013 and a baby girl who was born last month. Because all three came after Cromartie had a vasectomy in 2013.

That would seem to indicate one of two things: 1) Cromartie possesses bionic sperm that medical science cannot prevent from fulfilling its mission of fertilization; or 2) his vasectomy was botched.

To determine which one it might be, I checked in with Dr. Jamin V. Brahmbhatt, a fertility specialist with Orlando Health, who notes that he’s not Cromartie’s doctor nor has he seen an analysis of Cromartie’s semen. Therefore, he’s hesitant to speak on this particular case. But Brahmbhatt was more than willing to talk about the unfathomable horror of being able to procreate post-vasectomy when even T-shirts promise “all juice, no seeds.”

Vasectomy 101. Compared with all other forms of birth control, vasectomies have the lowest failure rates. The procedure typically involves cutting the vas deferens, or the tube that transports sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory ducts. “Some people put clips on it,” Brahmbhatt explains. “Some use ties; others actually burn the edges. But the principle remains the same: Divide that tube and leave several spaces in between the cuts so it won’t reconnect.”

It’s “very, very rare” for vasectomies to fail. Before Brahmbhatt does a vasectomy, he cautions patients that roughly 1 in 2,000 of them fail. “We take all of the necessary precautions when doing a vasectomy, but sometimes, just by chance or the way people heal, the tubes that we cut can recanalize, or come back together. That allows sperm to flow through the tubes again. I’ve seen it happen with my own patients, but it’s very, very rare. There are other times when we do a vasectomy, and patients continue to have sperm come out. So we’ll go back in and do another vasectomy or cut even more. But in most cases it’s one and done.”

This doesn’t mean Cromartie is having superhuman quantities of sex. Brahmbhatt says that the amount of sex one has after a vasectomy doesn’t affect the probability of recanalizing. “I wouldn’t say this happened magically, but it does take some magic-level bad luck for [a vasectomy] to fail — three times.”

If one of Brahmbhatt’s patients had three children despite having a vasectomy… “The first thing we’d do is have him masturbate into a cup and check for sperm in the specimen. If we find no sperm, that leads to a delicate conversation concerning the paternity of the child.”