You’ve decided that you would like to not have any more children so permanent birth control is an important option to discuss with your doctor. Over 60% of women of reproductive age are currently using contraception and about 10 million (27%) use female sterilization. Each year, about half a million men in the US get a vasectomy.
Sterilization works by stopping an egg from connecting with sperm. All the techniques doctors use are safe, effective, and won’t affect your cycles. So which method is best for you? Here are some of the things you’ll want to consider.
For Him: Vasectomy
This method blocks sperm from moving into semen. Vasectomies have a 99% success rate in preventing pregnancy. Many couples choose vasectomies because it’s simple, inexpensive and safe. The procedure can be done in a doctor’s office, often doesn’t even need stitches, and it only takes 15-30 minutes. Recovery is quick and the risks of infection and bleeding are low.
Some men worry a vasectomy will be bad for their sex life, but they will have normal erections and ejaculate after a vasectomy. The only difference is they won’t have any sperm. Often couples report that their sex life improved as they worried less about pregnancy.
It does take time for the sperm to leave the system. You and your partner will need backup birth control for about 10 weeks.
For Her: Tubal Ligation
In this procedure, a surgeon closes off your fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from your ovaries to your uterus. Your doctor calls it tubal ligation, but you may have heard it as “getting your tubes tied.”
Tubal ligation is effective and it’s safe, but there are some risks: like bleeding, infection, damage to other organs, side effects from anesthesia, and ectopic pregnancy.
Tubal ligation is usually done in a hospital or clinic and takes about 30 minutes. You’ll probably go home the same day and return to typical activities within a few days. Some women have the procedure when they deliver their last baby via C-section.
Other than preventing pregnancy, getting your tubes tied won’t change much. Sex won’t feel different and you’ll still have your period every month.
For Her: Tubal Sterilization
In an option called Essure, the doctor inserts a tiny, spring-like device into a woman’s fallopian tubes through the vagina. The device forms scar tissue, which blocks the egg. It only takes about 15 minutes. Instead of making a cut, your doctor inserts it through your vagina.
Some women experience cramping, pain, bleeding, spotting or changes to their monthly period.
It’s more than 99% effective, but not right away. The scars need time to form, so plan on using backup protection for about 3 months.
Which birth control is best for you? As techniques can’t be reversed (or it’s invasive and expensive to try) it’s important to be absolutely sure that this is the right decision and time for you. It’s a personal choice. Whatever you choose, make sure you and your partner are absolutely certain that you don’t want to have kids in the future before you make your decision.