Hey, guys! Here’s one more thing to add to your list of “Fun Things to Do on Weekends in Northern Utah.”
Go get a vasectomy.
The organizers of The Weekend Vasectomy Clinic — which has operated the past two years in Salt Lake City and Bountiful — are expanding into northern Davis County. A new office is opening in the Westside Medical Clinic, at 1477 N. 2000 West, in Clinton, and the first Saturdays-only clinic is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 11.
Dr. Justin Parkinson, a urologist, is the co-founder and chief medical officer of the clinics. Back in 2014, Parkinson says they were brainstorming ways to reach out to men who were contemplating permanent sterilization.
“I asked, ‘What are the barriers to keeping a man from getting a vasectomy?’” he recalls.
Parkinson was one of the first Salt Lake City doctors to employ a no-needle approach to vasectomies, using a device called a jet injector to deliver a local anesthesia instead. He also uses a no-scalpel technique that leaves only a tiny incision.
“And then the idea dawned on me: ‘Maybe if we do it at a more convenient time,’” Parkinson said.
Thus, Weekend Vasectomy Clinic was born.
Clinics are held on Saturdays, from about 7:30 a.m. to noon at the group’s various locations. Between 10 to 15 vasectomies are performed on a typical Saturday morning.
These weekend clinics — which are available in many larger metropolitan areas around the country — are really selling convenience, according to Parkinson. The Saturday appointments mean patients don’t have to take a weekday off to have the procedure, and Parkinson says most are back to work on Monday. The clinic draws patients from as far away as Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada.
In a vasectomy, the duct that conveys sperm from each of the testicles to the urethra — called the vas deferens — is clamped or cut. The procedure itself takes about 10 minutes.
“Most patients are walking out the door within a half-hour of when they walked in,” Parkinson said. “We really do try to make it easy and quick.”
And, Parkinson adds, as painless as possible, thanks to the no-needle, no-scalpel procedure.
Most patients are 80 to 90 percent recovered within a week, and by three weeks, few report any discernible discomfort, according to Parkinson.
Full effectiveness of the sterilization, on the other hand, takes a bit longer. Parkinson says patients will need to use secondary birth control for the first 25 to 30 ejaculations — after that, he recommends patients bring in a specimen to make certain “there aren’t any swimmers.”
“Vasectomies can sometimes fail,” he said, explaining that the vas deferens sometimes manages to reconnect. “One in 2,000 figure out how to get back together.”
In Clinton, doctors expect to offer weekend vasectomies — at least to begin with — on every other Saturday. Dr. Tyler Dixon, a family physician at Westside Medical who will be manning the Clinton clinic, met Parkinson through a colleague.
“We’ve done vasectomies for 20 plus years,” Dixon said. “We got to talking, and Dr. Parkinson shared his business model. It seemed like a good fit.”
Dixon said a weekend clinic is a popular way to educate patients to the possibility of such a rapid recovery time from a vasectomy.
“The procedure has so few potential risks, it’s quick, simple to do, relatively pain-free and offers the possibility of being down for such a small amount of time,” he said. “I think if most couples knew how easy and simple it is, more would take advantage.”
Dixon and Parkinson say a vasectomy has multiple advantages over the most common form of permanent birth control — the tubal ligation, in which a woman’s fallopian tubes are tied, blocked or cut.
“Anatomically, it’s not hard to realize why that is,” Dixon said. “The male anatomy is much more accessible.”
Dixon says a vasectomy is also much cheaper — $650 to $700 if you’re paying cash. A tubal ligation can cost thousands of dollars.
It’s estimated that between 500,000 and a million vasectomies are performed yearly in the United States. Parkinson suspects the procedure isn’t nearly as popular here in Utah as elsewhere.
“I would guess — but this would only be a guess, we don’t have good data — that the percentage is lower in Utah than the national average,” he said. “We do think we’re swimming upstream a little bit.”
Parkinson said religious views are part of the reason for lower numbers of vasectomies in certain areas of the country. Some members of churches are discouraged from using any form of birth control — Catholics, for example. And among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church’s handbook “strongly discourages” surgical sterilization, which includes vasectomies.
Parkinson acknowledges the procedure is a personal decision. He and Dixon just want to make sure the patient has carefully weighed the pros and cons of a vasectomy.
“We understand the predominant culture, and we respect that,” Parkinson said.
In two years of operation at the Weekend Vasectomy Clinic, Parkinson says they’ve done “just shy” of 1,000 vasectomies.
Dixon said all slots are taken for Saturday’s inaugural clinic in Clinton, but future dates are fairly open. The clinic’s website is weekendvasectomyutah.com.
Most men are naturally squeamish about the procedure, so doctors and nurses do all they can to relax the patient. That includes using humor, according to Parkinson, like staff members wearing shirts with “Seedless Grapes” or “All Juice, No Pulp” printed on them.
Oh yes, and the phone number to make an appointment for permanent sterilization at Weekend Vasectomy Clinic? It’s 844-764-7733.
“That’s 844-SNIPPED,” Parkinson says.