Birth control, contraception, family planning…however you describe it, choosing which method is best for you is a personal decision. There’s no right or wrong answer that meets every person’s needs. Permanent methods of preventing pregnancy, such as ‘having your tubes tied’ or vasectomy, can be worth considering if you’re sure you don’t want to become pregnant, perhaps because you’re finished building your family or because pregnancy would present a risk to your health.
What is tubal ligation?
Tubal ligation, commonly referred to as ‘having your tubes tied,’ is a laparoscopic surgical procedure that cuts and ties off a woman’s fallopian tubes (the two thin tubes that carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). Your ovaries will still produce eggs, and you will still have your period, but the eggs don’t reach the uterus for fertilization.
The advantages of tubal ligation include:
- Highly effective at preventing pregnancy (nearly 100% when both tubes are ligated)
- Convenience: there’s no need to remember, buy, or use any kind of contraception again
- Non-pharmaceutical: no medication, such as the birth control pill, is required to prevent pregnancy, so you don’t need to worry about side effects
- Research has shown salpingectomy may lower your risk of ovarian cancer
The disadvantages of tubal ligation include:
- It’s generally an irreversible and permanent form of sterilization. However, a woman could still try in vitro fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant, since IVF does not require functioning fallopian tubes in order to be successful.
- It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted disease (STD); condoms would still be required to prevent STDs such as HIV.
- It’s a surgical procedure that requires anesthesia and may cause some soreness for several days, with heavy lifting discouraged for 2-3 weeks afterwards.
Is vasectomy a better choice?
For some couples, vasectomy is a better choice. Vasectomy is a minor procedure done in the office. This procedure is for male patients and blocks sperm from reaching the semen. Semen is still ejaculated, but without sperm. In this way, vasectomy prevents pregnancy. The approximately 30-minute procedure, which can be done while the patient is awake, is nearly 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. For couples in a committed relationship, it can have lower risk, a lower cost, and less recovery time than salpingectomy. Vasectomy can also be reversed through surgery, although this does not guarantee success in conceiving a child.The general surgeons at Muskegon Surgical Associates can help you decide what family planning option is best for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.