For You General

Sterilization – You or Him?

SterilizationOnce couples mutually agree that their family is complete (or even to not have one at all), permanent sterilisation becomes an option for both of you. It is important to understand that not only is this the best form of contraception but that the emphasis is placed on the word PERMANENT!

Now the hard part, how do you decide who has it done? Flipping a coin might not be the best way to decide so it imperative you are both informed and educated about this permanent step.

If you had a caesarean section it is possible that you had decided before hand that at the time of your delivery the gynae should perform a tubal ligation since they are busy with the important bits anyway! However, if you didn’t decide beforehand or you had a natural delivery and you are considering sterilisation, the first step is to decide who should have the procedure done. As mentioned, women have the option of having a tubal ligation whilst men may opt for having a vasectomy performed.

Statistics show that the most common method of sterilisation is tubal ligation. One must remember that tubal ligation requires a hospital setting and carries a far greater risk than a vasectomy. In fact, a vasectomy is usually performed in a physician’s office and the recovery time is much less than in the case of a tubal ligation.

Educating yourselves about both tubal ligation and vasectomy in terms of what happens during each procedure, recovery times, complications, long term consequences and effectiveness, you will both be able to make a decision that leaves both of you feeling comfortable with your choice.


Tubal Ligation or Vasectomy?


Tubal Ligation

A 30 minute procedure performed in the doctor’s office.

A 45 minute procedure performed in a hospital setting usually as an outpatient.

Requires two small incisions in the scrotum performed under local anaesthetic.

Requires one to two abdominal incisions usually performed under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation.

Involves the cutting of the tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm.  The vas deferens are then sealed using either sutures or surgical clips on the end of the tubes.

Involves one of several methods which typically involves cutting the fallopian tubes and then sealing them or clipping them so that the sperm cannot reach the egg.

Recovery from vasectomy usually requires only that the patient refrains from heavy physical activity for approximately 48 hours.

Recovery from tubal ligation requires women to limit physical activity and heavy lifting for at least a week following the surgery.

Complications from vasectomy are relatively rare but can involve bleeding and infection, swelling of the scrotum as well as the possibility of sperm granulomas (small, inflamed hard nodules at the end of the severed tube).  These usually heal on their own however in some cases additional surgery may be required.

Complications from a tubal ligation include a slight risk of bleeding and infection.

The failure rate for vasectomy is about 1 percent.

The failure rate for tubal ligation is slightly higher at 2 percent.


Long Term Risks

Studies on long term health risks for men who have undergone vasectomy remain inconclusive however some believe the risk of prostate cancer is increased. Research indicates that the increased risk of heart disease and testicular cancer appear to be unfounded.

The long term health risks for women who have undergone a tubal ligation include changes in their menstrual cycle as well as if the procedure is performed before the age of 30, women face a higher risk of hysterectomy. There are health benefits though as other research suggests that tubal ligation may provide protection against ovarian cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).


 – Candice Shelley


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