How does or doesn’t it work?
In principle, permanent methods of birth control are meant for people who never want to have a child, or who don’t want more children. A permanent method of birth control is when a man or woman is sterilised. Women who are sterilised can no longer get pregnant; men who are sterilised can no longer get a woman pregnant.
Sometimes permanent methods of birth control can be reversed. But the surgery is much more complicated than the original procedure and may not be successful. In principle, however, there is a possibility that fertility can be restored and lead to pregnancy.
Female sterilisation is also referred to as tying the Fallopian tubes or tubal ligation. It is usually done following laparoscopy (keyhole surgery to look inside the abdomen by using a laparoscope), which is a minor invasive surgical procedure. The laparoscope is passed into the abdomen through a small incision below the navel. Then some gas is injected through the cut to ‘blow out’ the abdominal wall slightly. This makes it easier to see the internal organs with the laparoscope. Female sterilisation is performed by a gynaecologist specialised in this field.
A woman is sterile directly after the procedure.
There are several different ways of closing the Fallopian tubes:
- Burning them shut
- Clipping or banding them shut
Laparoscopic surgery does not require an overnight stay. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and is performed under a general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic
Another procedure for female sterilisation is called hysteroscopic sterilisation, in which a small camera and tube (hysteroscope) are passed through the vagina and cervix. The technique involves flowing liquid silicone rubber into the Fallopian tubes. The silicone cures in place and forms a rubbery solid plug.
The advantage of hysteroscopy compared to laparoscopy is that the procedure doesn’t cause any scarring and is less painful.
Male sterilisation, or vasectomy, is a procedure which involves severing the vas deferens (the tubes carrying sperm from the testes) in order to prevent sperm from entering the semen. This operation is simpler than tying a woman’s tubes. The 30-minute procedure is usually done at an outpatient surgical centre and is performed under local anaesthetic. The man can go home directly after. Male sterilisation is usually done by an urologist or surgeon. After the procedure, the man will still be able to get and erection and to ejaculate. It does take a number of weeks before all the fertile sperm cells have disappeared from the vas deferens and prostate gland. As soon as the man’s sperm count has dropped to zero, he is considered sterile.
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New male sterilisation technique
IVD (Intra Vas Device) is the latest sterilisation technique for men. This technique involves inserting pre-formed, flexible silicone plugs into the vas deferens. Because this natural method of contraception is much easier to perform, researchers expect IVD reversal to also be a simpler procedure.
Last updated on October 12, 2016.
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