While many men shy away from discussing their health concerns with one another, three longtime friends from Los Angeles decided to take a new approach to the very personal matter of birth control.
With the encouragement of their wives, Paul Diaz, John Lambrechts and Basilio Santangelo recently did something unusual for guys: they decided to get vasectomies on the same day, from the same doctor, one after another.
“We all have two kids around the same age; we all decided we were perfectly happy with the size of our families, so we made a pact to get them done,” said Diaz, who has known Lambrechts and Santangelo for years.
The timing was not coincidental. While the three friends had their vasectomies just before the holidays – some as a gift for their wives – many men time their vasectomies for another reason: lots of sports on TV. Watching sports gives them a distraction during their recovery, when sitting on the sofa can be enjoyed as a guilt-free activity.
With the NCAA basketball tournament – a nearly month-long extravaganza of college hoops action – upon us, some men find it the right time to consider a vasectomy.
“Each spring there are stories about men who time their vasectomies around the college basketball tournament,” said Dr. Jesse Mills, a urologist and director of The Men’s Clinic at UCLA. “The idea is to get the procedure done now so you can spend a few days on the couch recuperating while watching basketball games,” he said.
Though they are widely considered the most reliable and cost-effective form of any type of birth control only about one in 10 eligible men in the U.S. get vasectomies, according to a 2015 report by the United Nations. That’s half the rate of men in comparable countries like Canada and the U.K.
“It’s an option that really deserves more consideration, especially when you compare it to sterilization surgeries for women,” said Mills.
So one afternoon, in back-to-back-to-back appointments, Mills performed vasectomies on Diaz, Lambrechts and Santangelo.
“It was a great scenario,” said Mills. “These guys wanted to not only support each other in this decision, they wanted to get it done so they could recuperate together.”
Planning the procedures as a group allowed the three friends to broach a topic that can be overwhelming and uncomfortable to some.
“We talked about it for a while, and at the urging of our wives, we decided to take one for the team,” said Lambrechts. The trio jokingly dubbed themselves “the three vascateers.”
Vasectomies are outpatient procedures that can take less than 30 minutes to perform under local anesthesia – usually in a doctor’s office. Sterilization surgery for women – known as tubal ligation – is a more invasive procedure that requires women to undergo general anesthesia at a hospital or surgical center. The recovery time is much longer and the failure rate, higher compared to vasectomies. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every two hundred tubal ligations fail and lead to unexpected pregnancies within a year – more than three times the rate as vasectomies.
“Our wives already went through so much giving birth,” said Santangelo, “that we figured this was an easier option for us, so we did it. It was easy.”