Please note: This archive was last updated in 2005.

RHO archives : Topics : Contraceptive Methods

Sterilization

Female sterilization

Female sterilization, also called tubal occlusion or ligation, is a permanent contraceptive method for women who do not want more children. The method requires a simple surgical procedure. The two most common female sterilization approaches are minilaparotomy, which is usually performed under local anesthesia with light sedation, and laparoscopy, which requires general anesthesia. Female sterilization does not affect breastfeeding or interfere with intercourse and it is free from the side effects associated with some temporary methods. No medical condition absolutely restricts a woman's eligibility for the method. Some characteristics of female sterilization are highlighted below.

Effectiveness

0.2% to 0.5% failure rate during first year of use; 1.8% failure rate over ten years of use.

Age limitations

No restrictions.

Parity limitations

No restrictions.

Mode of action

By blocking the fallopian tubes to prevent the ovum and sperm from uniting.

Effect on STI risk

Not protective.

Drug interaction

Certain antiseizure medications (barbiturates, carbamazepine, phenytoin, primadone) and antibiotics (Rifampin and Griseofulvin) may affect the effectiveness of anesthetics.

Duration of use

Female sterilization is a permanent contraceptive method.

Return to fertility

A woman is sterile from the time the procedure is completed.

For information on quinacrine sterilization, please see the Contraceptive Research and Development page.

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Male sterilization

Male sterilization, also called vasectomy, is a permanent contraceptive method for men who do not want more children. The method requires a simple surgical procedure and is performed under local anesthesia. Male sterilization is not castration; it does not affect the testes. The method does not interfere with intercourse or affect a man's sexual ability. No medical condition absolutely restricts a man's eligibility for the method. Male sterilization is generally safer and less expensive than female sterilization and it is a good way for men to share in the responsibility of family planning. Providers should encourage couples to discuss this option. Some characteristics of male sterilization are highlighted below.

Effectiveness

0.1% to 0.15% failure rate in the first year after the procedure.

Age limitations

No restrictions.

Parity limitations

No restrictions.

Mode of action

By blocking the vas deferens (ejaculatory duct) to prevent sperm from being released into the ejaculate.

Effect on STI risk

Not protective.

Drug interaction

Certain antiseizure medications (barbiturates, carbamazepine, phenytoin, primadone) and antibiotics (Rifampin and Griseofulvin) may affect the effectiveness of anesthetics.

Duration of use

Male sterilization is a permanent contraceptive method.

Return to fertility

The method is not effective immediately; a man is sterile and his ejaculate is sperm-free about 3 months or 20 ejaculations after the procedure is completed.

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Expert Consultation on Vasectomy

A consultation of experts on vasectomy was convened in December 2003 to prioritize future research related to vas occlusion techniques and to develop guidelines for vasectomy techniques in diverse settings. A report of this meeting, including a summary of recent studies about efficacy of ligation and excision techniques, is available online through Family Health International at www.fhi.org/en/RH/Pubs/booksReports/vasconrpt.htm.

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