Surgical Sterilization

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that makes a man sterile, or unable to get a woman pregnant. It is generally considered to be at least as effective as female sterilization and is simpler to perform, safer, and less costly. Vasectomy is very effective. It has been estimated that only about 15 out of 10,000 couples get pregnant during the first year after a vasectomy. Although rare, pregnancy is possible even years after the procedure. Although some men have been able to have their vasectomies reversed (undone), this process involves expensive, major surgery, and success cannot be guaranteed. Therefore a vasectomy is considered appropriate for those who desire a permanent form of birth control. It is also important to remember that vasectomy does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. Men who have had vasectomy should still practice safe sex to avoid STDs.

What is a Tubal Ligation?

Tubal ligation (or “tying the tubes”) is surgery to close a woman’s fallopian tubes. These tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. A woman who has this surgery can no longer get pregnant (sterile). Tubal ligation may be recommended for adult women who know for sure they do not want to get pregnant in the future. Even though many women choose to have tubal ligation, some are sorry later that they did. The younger the woman is, the more likely she will regret having her tubes tied as she gets older.

Tubal ligation is considered a permanent form of birth control. It is NOT recommended as a short-term method or one that can be reversed. Even so, major surgery can sometimes reverse it. About 50 to 80 women out of 100 who have their tubal ligation reversed are able to become pregnant. A hysteroscopic tubal occlusion procedure is very hard to reverse.

United States Department of Health and Human Services

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