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For March Madness fans, vasectomy timing is everything

By Paul Vercammen, CNN
updated 8:20 AM EDT, Mon March 17, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some college basketball fans plan their vasectomies near the NCAA tournament
  • They can recover while watching hours of their favorite sport, urologists say
  • One clinic advertised to drum up tournament business last year

(CNN) -- Forget college basketball players cutting down the nets after a victory. Some fans of March Madness are making their own monumental snips: vasectomies.

"If you are going to be laid up on the couch for a few days, you might as well get (a vasectomy) done when there is some great college basketball on TV," said Mike LaSalle, a 40-year-old father of two who had a vasectomy Friday. "You had all the conference championship games over the weekend and the NCAA tourney starts this week."

Dr. Philip Werthman, urologist to the rich and famous in Los Angeles, performed the vasectomy on LaSalle, who is a partner in a private equity firm.

"(LaSalle) came in wearing his Notre Dame cap," said Werthman with a laugh. "He said, 'My team is not in it this year, but I might as well hang out at watch the March Madness games.'"

Werthman says he is booked solid throughout the year, so he sees no spike in the number of vasectomies during March Madness.

RidicuList: Vasectomy and free pizza

But he does see patients jockeying for coveted time slots just before and during the NCAA men's basketball tournament by booking the procedures much earlier than usual.

A major clinic in Ohio reports it performs 40 or 50 more vasectomies a month before and during the 68-team basketball tourney.

"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.

"A lot of patients come in and say, 'I have to have this during March Madness, you have to talk to my wife about it. Tell her what my limitations are and that I need to be on the couch.'

"They'll even tell us to exaggerate a little about how long it takes to recover."

Sabanegh adds some enthusiastic fans stroll into their procedures, which take 30 minutes to an hour, sporting the jerseys of their favorite teams, and one fan prepared for his vasectomy recovery with a colorful aid.

"This patient in the past few years came in with his team's logo on an ice bag, Ohio State," the urologist recalled. "He was just excited about the game, and I said, 'We are all Ohio State fans today.'"

During the surgical procedure, tubes are tied to block the release of sperm when a man ejaculates to prevent pregnancy.

Tales of March Madness and vasectomies seem to confound the American Urological Association.

"The AUA does not have data showing any link between March Madness and an increase in the number of vasectomies performed," the AUA said in a statement to CNN.

But Urology Associates of Cape Cod placed a cable ad for vasectomies during last season's NCAA basketball tournament to drum up business.

"Want to watch college basketball guilt-free?" the announcer in the promotion asked. "Camp out on the couch for uninterrupted basketball."

The Cape Cod clinic gave away 41 coupons for free pizza to vasectomy patients last February and March as part of the promotion but declined to repeat the deal this year.

"There was definitely an uptick in our business," said Ethan Cohen, the clinic's practice coordinator. "The promotion gave the wife an opportunity to take about vasectomies, because in our experience usually the guy doesn't bring it up, it's the wife."

The department of urology at the Cleveland Clinic is already preparing by opening up extra appointments to handle the higher number of vasectomies.

Urologists recommend vasectomy couch potatoes wait a week before they become romantic but offer a warning when they rediscover their inner Austin Powers.

"We won't know that the vasectomy has completely worked for three months," says Sabanegh. "So they need to use an alternate form of contraception."

Just when it seems a possible March Madness vasectomy trend may be starting, there a twist.

"I had a patient come in on Thursday with another idea," said Werthman. "He received a reverse vasectomy he wanted timed before March Madness."

So far there are no stories of March Madness winners retying the nets.

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