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Medical Monday: March Madness and...vasectomies?

Posted at 7:10 PM, Mar 07, 2016
Dr. Richard Windsor, a urologist with BayCare Clinic, joined us on “Wisconsin Tonight” to talk about the connection of March Madness and vasectomies.
 
In simple terms, a vasectomy is a surgical sterilization procedure for men. Generally, when the decision is made to no longer have children and pursue a birth control method, one option is for a man to undergo a vasectomy.
 
Here’s the quick explanation: It’s a low-impact, 20- to 30-minute procedure during which the vas deferens (the tube that connects the testicles to the urethra) from each testicle is sealed. The procedure prevents sperm from mixing with semen. Without sperm, an egg cannot be fertilized. A patient can still ejaculate but without the risk of pregnancy. As a note, it usually takes a few months for all remaining sperm to be ejaculated or reabsorbed. We strongly encourage patients to use alternative birth control methods until they have a semen sample tested that shows a zero sperm count.
 
The procedure is permanent and about 99.9 percent effective. But it is possible that the tubes can reconnect and the sperm can again get through possibly resulting in becoming fertile again. This doesn’t happen very often. About 1 out of every 5,000 to 6,000 vasectomies fail.
 
It’s typically done under local or general anesthetic and patients can walk out of the office soon after the procedure. Patients generally report feeling a mild to moderate ache in their testicles for a few seconds during the procedure. And that area may feel a little sore for a few days after the vasectomy but that’s eased with a cold compress and lots of inactivity. We clearly instruct our patients to avoid heavy physical work and sexual activity for a few days. But that’s where the greatness of March Madness comes to play this time of year.
 
Dr. Windsor said they see a surge in demand for vasectomy procedures during the weeks of the NCAA Tournament. It’s one of the busiest times of the month for most urologists. That’s because an important part of the post-procedure recovery for patients is 48 to 72 hours of extremely limited activity. For men interested in all things March Madness, it’s a perfect prescription. They undergo the vasectomy procedure and have a valid excuse to vegetate in front of the TV catching the games. In the past, they’ve even provided patients with popcorn and tickets to the movies when they’re leaving, just to make sure they really do limit their activity.
 
In general, there are fewer risks and a much lower cost associated with a vasectomy than a similar sterilization procedure for a woman. The risk of complication is very low.
 
It can be possible to have a vasectomy reversed in an operation called a vasovasostomy. This is performed under a general anesthetic. The surgical time is usually two to three hours in length, but is performed as an outpatient day surgery procedure. Patients can expect some swelling at the surgical site as well as discomfort in the scrotum. However, this usually is not severely limiting and most people can return to day-to-day activities such as desk work within three to five days after a vasectomy reversal. Men who perform heavy lifting or straining at work, may require up to a week and a half of recovery, before they would be allowed to return to full activity.
 
For more information, call BayCare Clinic Urological Surgeons at 888-437-9613.