Today and tomorrow, Dr. Chris Deibert — a urologist at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha — is performing twice the number of vasectomies he usually does.
“I usually do three on Thursday and three on Friday, and I think we’re doing eight each of those days instead,” he tells MEL. “Frankly, I’d be happy doing a lot more on those days, and the demand was there to do more, but we just didn’t have enough instruments to accommodate any more.”
Deibert’s not the only urologist in America seeing an uptick in vasectomies this March. In fact, it’s a widespread rumor that vasectomies surge during this time of year because guys want to get snipped and have an excuse to sit around and watch the beginning of the NCAA March Madness tournament.
“The OTHER March Madness: A rush for vasectomies,” the Washington Post reported in 2017. “Are nets the only things getting snipped?”
In Deibert’s case, however, this is the only year he’s actually seen an increase in vasectomies this weekend — and that’s because his clinic ran a specific marketing campaign for it.
“This year, our practice did some extra advertising in March to encourage guys who are thinking about making a permanent decision for their family,” he tells MEL. “We intentionally planned out a bunch of extra time to do extra procedures, more than we would normally do. And then working with our marketing team, we did some advertising, [and] specifically scheduled [callers] on these days.”
Deibert explains that guys typically like to get the procedure done on Thursdays and Fridays anyway, so they can relax over the weekend and don’t have to worry about taking time off work. Other than that, he says, it’s not March when his practice sees a yearly uptick in vasectomies.
“In fact, the big rise is in December,” he says, “because more guys have time off for the holiday. Or, more importantly, they’ve hit their deductible for the year and think, Well, I can essentially get this covered without much out-of-pocket expenses.”
Essentially, it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Which came first, guys getting snipped in March, or urologists advertising March as the big time to do it? In other words, is this all a Hallmark Holiday conspiracy, only instead of buying cards, it’s convincing guys that this is the time of year to get vasectomies?
Articles regarding this topic are flush with funny and wacky campaigns that urologists run to get some business this weekend. One local D.C. radio station gave away a free procedure; many clinics give away a free pizza with each March Madness vasectomy; Virginia Urology runs an entire campaign this time of year, writing, “Spend 3 days on the couch watching basketball with your wife’s approval!”
Even Buffalo Wild Wings has jumped on the vasectomy hype train with a “Jewel Stool,” to get more sore balls and butts in seats.
But that’s not to say urologists are trying to dupe guys into getting vasectomies. Urologists are very careful to ensure everyone involved has thoroughly contemplated how this permanent procedure will impact their lives.
Dr. Ted Benderev, a urologist in California who’s performed over 6,000 vasectomies, says guys won’t just walk in and decide to get a vasectomy tomorrow because they’ll get a pizza.
“There’s generally a long lead time [to getting the vasectomy] because the guys need some time to really process it,” he tells MEL. “I definitely encourage patients that if there’s any hesitation at all, and until both partners are as sure as they can be that neither want to have children, that they should wait.”
He adds, “Occasionally, I’ll have a case where I’ll sort of read it in the eye of one partner or the other. And I’ll tell them, ‘Just wait, there will be a right time, you know?’ And that makes a difference in the family dynamics afterwards, that both members are part of that decision.”
Though Benderev says he’s “never jumped on the [March Madness] bandwagon,” he knows guys will “use it as an excuse to get it done.” Still, “I definitely think guys look for this, and I’ve talked to colleagues who say they see more [appointments].”
Guys love the hype and the deals around it, he says, and so they take advantage. “There’s a lot of reluctance on guys, they’re hardwired to protect that area down there, so they like to be taken care of with this,” he says, and that’s where the deals can help them take the step and get it scheduled. Especially when they learn they’ll need time off, he says, “I’ll get many men that’ll say, ‘Oh geez, I wish I would’ve done it during March Madness.’”
Deibert says he hears the same things from his patients. “I think just anecdotally in March, a lot of guys think, Oh well, I might as well do it then because I can hang out and watch the first or second round and be relaxed,” he says. But that’s a line he hears from some, not all patients.
“It’s not a big jump,” he concludes. “Just some of them will say, ‘This is the perfect time for me to hang out for a few days.’”
So is it actually a thing, so far as cable companies and the NCAA want you to believe men love their televised basketball schedules so much that they unwittingly plan major life decisions around it? No. Is it a thing so far as urologists found a fun narrative to market their services with? Sure.
The American Urological Association didn’t respond for comment on whether they have hard data on this trend. However, Dr. Benderev says the one time we know there was an uptick in national vasectomies was during the 2009 financial crisis.
Other than that, Benderev says, guys who do plan it specifically for things like March Madness or the Masters (another sporting event vasectomies anecdotally rise), “have it all wired. They’ve got their remote controls ready, their chair ready and everything.”
And for those who are getting snipped this weekend, both doctors have some advice. “There are some complications too that guys should be aware of — hematoma, infection, failure rates and those sorts of things. And of course guys should know it’s permanent,” Deibert says. “In general I tell guys they’re going to be sore, so take it easy for a day or two. Most guys are back at work on day two or day three for sure.”
Deibert recommends taking a break from any strenuous activity, including sex, for about a week — “just so they don’t cause any extra inflammation on an already normally sensitive area of the body.”
And if you were planning on stopping by BW3’s to sit in the Jewel Stool, that’s fine, so long as you’re not on any painkillers. “You should absolutely not drink any alcohol while taking any sedative or narcotic medication, for at least six or eight hours surrounding that pain medication,” Deibert says. If you’re doing it without sedatives or narcotics, however, “so long as you don’t show up drunk to your procedure, you can stop at a bar on your way home as far as I’m concerned. Have a drink or two and enjoy the game.”