What is Permanent Contraception? Is Sterilization Safe?
This is a contraception method that prevents pregnancy for good. Yes, permanently.
You see why it has to be a decision consciously and deliberately made. It should not be rushed into. Enough time should be given before taking this important decision. It is also known as sterilization. It can be done on both males and females. It is also very important to know that it does not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. So, dual protection is still advised and in this case, the use of either a male or female condom.
Types of Sterilization
- Bilateral Tubal ligation
The word “vasectomy” comes from two words “vas” that means the vas deferens, which is the tube that carries the sperms from the testicles to mix with the semen, and “ectomy” which means to cut. In simple terms, vasectomy is cutting and tying the vas deferens to prevent the sperms from mixing with the semen.
The female version is the bilateral tubal ligation (BTL). Bilateral means both sides, left and right, tubal means tube and ligation means tying. In simple terms, BTL is the tying up of the fallopian tubes, and this in turn prevents the eggs from getting to the uterus. You see why they are both permanent methods, right?
Let us now move a bit deeper into these procedures.
As we said earlier, this has to do with cutting the vas deferens and tying them to prevent the movement of sperm to be a part of the seminal fluid. One thing to note about this procedure is that men still ejaculate and sex can be as normal after vasectomy as it was before (if there were not complications during surgery, of course).
The difference is that whatever fluid is released would not have sperm in it, so there is nothing to fertilize the eggs of the female and pregnancy cannot occur. For three months after the procedure, enough protection should be used because some sperms cells that have already passed farther into the tube could still be alive.
Bilateral Tubal Ligation
This is a procedure that is used to close or block both fallopian tubes so the eggs cannot pass into the uterine cavity. Clips or rings can be used to ligate, just as the tubes can also be cut and tied just like in vasectomy.
Mostly, it is done through the belly button, so it is minimally invasive. There are also completely non-invasive methods of achieving this (through the vagina). Sexual intercourse can also proceed very normally after the procedure without the fear of pregnancy (if again the procedure goes without complications) as the sperms would have no egg to fertilize.
Here, it is mostly done under complete body anesthesia, however, a new type where coils are put up in the tubes that close with time do not require complete anesthesia and it can be a day procedure.
The failure rate is about 1 in 2000 procedures for vasectomy.
The failure rate of tubal ligation is about 1 in 200, much higher than in vasectomy.
For this reason, it is strongly advised that you should always use other forms of protection, especially male and female condoms. This is called dual protection in the world of reproductive health and family planning.
This method of contraception is not fully supported by a lot of countries, however countries like New Zealand have allowed it provided whoever wants to do it provides consent. The issue of consent is also widely discussed and has a lot of varying opinions. There are no legal obligations to obtaining consent from partners though this varies from place to place too.
It is advised to discuss this topic with your partner though, because it affects both of you directly or indirectly. Also, about the age group, surgeons are reluctant to carry these procedures out on the younger population because they could later change their minds and want to conceive but would not be able to. In essence, this is a very sensitive topic and has been in discussion for a long while.
Think really hard before you decide to go for permanent methods of contraception. The human mind is very dynamic. What is the best today may be the opposite tomorrow.
Advantages of Sterilization
- It is mostly guaranteed to work permanently except for a very few cases.
- Sex life remains normal.
- If you have made your mind not to have kids again or at all, it is the best option.
- It saves you the use of hormonal methods of contraception.
- Other medications do not affect it and sterilization also does not affect the use of other medications.
Disadvantages of Sterilization
- It could fail.
- It might cause regrets later in life.
- The surgery could have complications and other structures could be affected.
- There could be infections after surgery.
- It could cause pregnancy in the tubes especially if not done correctly.
- It does not protect against STIs or STDs.
- It is expensive.
- It needs a trained personnel to do it.
- It may need a general anaesthesia and this could come with its complications.