When you’re certain that your family is complete, you may consider permanent birth control options to guarantee your right-sized family stays that way.

Procedures for Men

Vasectomy. This surgical procedure prevents sperm from mixing with a man’s semen by blocking or removing the vas deferens tube. This doesn’t interfere with intimacy or intercourse. The procedure is done out-patient, in less than an hour. Recovery is quick, and most men can resume normal activities in a couple of days. In the weeks following the operation, a man will return to his doctor to test sperm count, which usually has dropped to zero by 12 weeks. Until a zero count is reached, couples should use a back-up form of birth control. But after that point, this birth control method is more than 99% effective.  In rare instances, it could be surgically reversed, but that depends on a number of factors.

Procedures for Women

Tubal Ligation. Otherwise known as having your “tubes tied,” this surgical procedure involves closing off your fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Some women have this procedure done when they deliver their final baby via C-section, since they’re already undergoing surgery at that time. The procedure is usually done in a hospital, and takes less than an hour. Recovery is typically a few days, with some minor swelling and discomfort likely. This method is effective immediately, but has some risks, like potential ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg stays in the fallopian tube rather than migrating to the uterus).

Tubal Sterilization. With this procedure, a doctor places a tiny device in the fallopian tubes which, causes scarring that permanently plugs them. This blocks the path of the egg so that it can’t be fertilized. The device is inserted through the vagina, so there is no surgery required for the brief procedure. Afterward, cramping, pain, bleeding and changes to menstruation may occur, as well as possible reactions to the device. In rare cases, the device may need to be surgically removed. This method is more than 99% effective. But it takes up to three months for scar tissue to form, so back-up protection is needed during that time. A test in the doctor’s office can confirm when the additional method isn’t needed anymore.

These procedures generally aren’t reversible, so take time with your spouse and doctor to make the choice that is best for your family.


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