Vasectomies seasonal? Think holidays and basketball!

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March and the end of the calendar year have the highest proportion of vasectomies performed in the U.S. population.

Background: Vasectomy is a common and safe urologic procedure providing permanent sterilization. Despite ubiquitous use in the United States, temporal trends and actual number of vasectomies performed are poorly understood.

Objective: To estimate the annual number of vasectomies performed in the U.S. population including changes over time, monthly variation, and demographic information.

Design: Query of claims data.

Methods: Truven Health MarketScan claims data were obtained. Estimates of number of possible men who could have obtained vasectomy were taken from census data. Claims data only included men with private insurance.

Results: Data from 2007 to 2015 was included. Authors estimated 527,000 vasectomies occur yearly in the United States. Prevalence of vasectomy decreased across all age groups and regions during the time period. Men aged 35 to 44 years were the most likely to get vasectomy (1.3% of population) followed by men aged 25 to 34 years (0.98%). The proportion by location was highest in the North Central (0.66%) followed by the West Coast (0.61%), the South (0.50%), and the Northeast (0.41%). Urologists performed the largest proportion of vasectomies (82%) followed by primary care doctors (6.4%). More than 80% of all vasectomies are performed in the office setting. A slight increase is seen in March of the calendar year with much higher proportions of vasectomies occurring at the end of the calendar year.

Conclusions: Approximately 0.5% to 0.6% of the eligible male population has a vasectomy on a yearly basis. Trends are seen based on age, geography, and month of the year.

Reviewer’s Comments:

The monthly increases at the end of the year and in March around the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) college basketball tournament are real and seen in clinical practice.

This is not the type of study that necessarily changes the practice of urologists but is still interesting although possibly you could increase the number of vasectomy spots in the higher demand months to catch on the trends. The overall trend seen during the study years is likely due to the financial recovery after the crash of 2008. Although not examined here, previous studies have found correlations between vasectomies, vasectomy reversals, and financial indicators.(Reviewer–Charles Welliver, MD).

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