March Madness: Michigan Medicine Expects Spike in Vasectomies During NCAA Tournament

For basketball fans across the U.S., the beginning of March is arguably the best time of the year: March Madness begins, this year on March 15.

Over the next two weeks, a large number of men will be swept up in the excitement that surrounds the NCAA Tournament. Others, however, will turn their attention to rather more delicate issues—according to experts at Michigan Medicine, March Madness is one of the most common times of the year for men to undergo vasectomies.

March Madness gets underway on Thursday, with the North Carolina Tar Heels looking to defend the title they won last year. Getty Images

Last year, the surgery center performed 324 vasectomies, an average of 27 a month, but the figure could be twice as high this month.

"We have opened up extra times and slots for vasectomies over this coming Thursday and Friday and the following [Thursday and Friday] and we expect to do somewhere around 40 to 50 vasectomies over those four days," Jim Dupree, assistant professor of urology at the medical center, told Michigan Health. "So this month, we'll probably do 50 or 60 vasectomies, which is higher than a typical month."

Michigan isn't the only state to experience the phenomenon, either. A survey released last year by health care company Athena Health showed urologists nationwide performed 30 percent more vasectomies during the first week of March Madness in 2016, compared with an average week over the rest of the year.

According to estimates, some 500,000 men, mostly aged between mid-20s to late 40s, in the U.S. undergo the procedure—during which a urologist blocks or closes the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles up to the penis—each year.

Doctors have suggested the spike could be due to the fact men can put their feet up and spend hours watching the NCAA tournament while recovering from their procedure.

"I think there are likely some smaller spikes around the time of other major sporting events, but this is the most prominent and the one that gets the most attention," Dupree said.

"Vasectomies are outpatient procedures [and] they do require a day or two, or maybe even three days of down time, which does not mean men have to be laying down flat on their backs, but it does usually mean that men take a day or two off work," he continued. "Because we tell them to take it easy for a few days, being able to do something they enjoy while taking it easy is often appealing.

"For men who enjoy, like I do, the basketball tournament and all of the good games, it provides an opportunity for them. "

With Michigan State University among the favorites for the NCAA title, local fans' interest in the tournament could stretch well into the Final Four, which begins on March 31 in San Antonio.

Barack Obama has tipped the Spartans, who are third-seeded in the Midwest Region, to claim a first title since 2000.

Michigan State won the Big 10 Tournament this year after ending the regular season with a 29-4 overall record, which included a 16-2 record against conference rivals.