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Sterilization

Frequently Asked Sterilization Questions

What is sterilization?

Sterilization is a surgical procedure that causes you to be unable to have a pregnancy. Female sterilization involves blocking the fallopian tubes to prevent and egg from being fertilized and male sterilization blocks the vas deferens so that no sperm can be released. Sterilization is considered to be permanent and irreversible. Sterilization is very effective at preventing pregnancy, but like any method has a small failure rate.

How does sterilization work for women?

One type of female sterilization is called a tubal ligation. In this procedure, the fallopian tubes are obstructed by one of several methods. These can include cutting, burning, or clamping the fallopian tubes. The procedure is performed in an operating room with general anesthesia. It is usually a same day procedure but is sometimes done during the same admission when you are delivering a baby. In this case it is called a postpartum tubal ligation. It is effective immediately. A mature egg is still released each month, but it will not be available to the sperm for fertilization. You should still have monthly periods and your natural hormones will not be changed by the surgery.

A newer procedure called Essure® is done hysteroscopically, through the vagina and uterus. A camera is passed through the vagina, cervix, and into the uterus. The openings to the fallopian tubes can then be visualized and a coil is placed into the tubes. The tissue will grow into the coils eventually causing blockage of the fallopian tubes. The advantage of this procedure is that there are no abdominal scars and less pain, no need for general anesthesia, and it is hormone free. The disadvantage is that you will need to use a back up form of birth control for several months after the procedure until you get a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to ensure that tubal blockage has occurred.

How does sterilization work for men?
Male sterilization is called a vasectomy. This procedure is generally performed in a doctor’s office using local anesthesia (numbing injection in the area of surgery). During the procedure the vas deferens is obstructed to prevent sperm from entering the semen. The vas deferens are the tubes that the sperm travels through on its way out of the man’s body. Once the tubes are tied sperm can no longer exit (be ejaculated). Since the sperm cannot be released, they die off and are reabsorbed by the body. Immediately following the surgery another birth control method needs to be used. There will still be sperm present in the tubes beyond the tied area. It will take 15-20 ejaculations to completely clear the tubes of sperm.
How will this affect manliness?

Tying the male’s vas deferens does not change the flow of male hormones and does not change the sex drive, ejaculations, or sexual feelings.

What are the major risks of sterilization in women and men?
There are some risks with any surgery. Complications can occur including bleeding, infection or damage to internal organs, and a small chance it may not work allowing pregnancy to occur.
How effective is sterilization?
Sterilization is nearly 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. ONLY women and men who have had all the children they want or who definitely do not want children should consider choosing sterilization. It is not for anyone who has any doubts as the procedures are considered to be permanent and irreversible.

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