Sterilization is a procedure that closes or blocks your fallopian tubes so you can’t get pregnant. (Your tubes are where eggs and sperm meet. If they can’t meet, you can’t get pregnant.) Guys also have a sterilization option—a vasectomy blocks the tubes that carry a man’s sperm. Talk to your doctor to learn more and be sure to ask about state and federal requirements, like age restrictions and waiting periods. View all methods >
Types of Sterilization
For women, Laparoscopy, Mini-laparotomy, and Laparotomy are sterilization procedures that require an incision. Because these methods are surgical, they involve anesthesia. Recovery times vary from 1-2 days to a few weeks.
For men, an incision-based vasectomy takes about 20 minutes. It requires a shot of local anesthetic and then a doctor makes one or two incisions to the scrotum and blocks the tubes so sperm are kept out of his seminal fluid. No sperm, no pregnancy.
Adiana and Essure are procedures for women that do not involve surgery or anesthesia. The fallopian tubes are reached through the vagina, where micro-inserts are placed. These inserts cause scar tissue to grow that will then block the tubes. Recovery is “same-day” and shouldn’t impact normal activities.
The no-scalpel vasectomy method for men involves a tiny puncture that reaches his tubes, where they are then tied off, cauterized, or blocked. There’s no scarring, no stitches, and this procedure is known for healing quite fast without complications.
Before you get sterilized, you need to be absolutely sure you don’t want to have biological children. There’s no getting your tubes “untied.”
No hormone worries
If you don’t want to use a hormonal method, this is one option. Plus, sterilization doesn’t change your body’s natural hormones—they’ll still pump through your body just like they did before.
If pregnancy would be harmful to your health
If there’s a medical reason why you shouldn’t get pregnant, sterilization might be a good way to go.
Hereditary illness or disability
Some people have genes they don’t want to pass along to their kids.
Your family’s big enough
Maybe you and your partner have had enough kids already.
Sterilization—especially the incision options—
can be expensive,but once it’s done you’ll never have to spend another dime on birth control (although a barrier method is still required when STIs are a concern).
- With Medicaid: Free or small co-pay
- With insurance: Totally depends. For non-incision methods, it could be as low as just your normal co-pay—or full price if your insurer doesn’t cover these newer methods. Incision methods are generally treated as surgery, so you might have to pay 10% of the cost (or more), depending on what your insurer requires for operations. Be sure to call your insurer to check.
- Without insurance: $1,500-$12,000.
- Payment assistance: Some hospitals and health centers may offer assistance to women who don’t earn a lot of money (but make too much to qualify for Medicaid). Contact the women’s health departments at nearby hospitals or check with your local family planning health centers and find out if they offer free or low-cost sterilizations.
How to Use It
There are a few different sterilization methods
available today, and they fall into two camps: Incision methods (you go under the scalpel) and non-incision methods (no cuts).
The incision methods include Laparoscopy, Mini-laparotomy, and Laparotomy. Laparotomy is the most major surgery of the three, but it’s also the least common. It requires a hospital stay for a couple of days and the recovery time can take weeks. Laparoscopy and Mini-Laparotomy are less intense, don’t necessarily involve overnight hospitalization, and recovery time is faster.
There are two non-incision methods, Adiana and Essure. With both, a skinny, tube-like instrument passes through the opening in your cervix and uterus so that a small insert can be placed in each fallopian tube. Essure contains a 1 ½” metal coil; Adiana uses silicone inserts about the size of a grain of rice. In each case, scar tissue forms around the inserts to block your tubes.
The non-incision methods are simpler and less expensive: actual insertion can take just three to 15 minutes, and you go home the same day. You don’t need general anesthesia or surgery, and you recover faster. Plus, no cut means no visible scar. You’ll need to use a back-up birth control method for three months, then have an x-ray to be sure the tubes are totally blocked. The incision methods are effective immediately.
You can read more about all of these procedures here: Association of Reproductive Health Professionals or find information about the non-incision methods from the manufacturers at www.essure.com and www.adiana.com.
There are positive and negative things to say
about each and every method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.
Positive “side effects”? You bet. There are actually lots of things about birth control that are good for your body as well as your sex life.
- Have all the sex you want without ever worrying about pregnancy
- Do it once, and never have to think about it again
- No hormones introduced into your body
Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for most women, they’re not a problem.
- A very rare risk that your tubes may reconnect themselves—which could lead to a pregnancy
- Possible complications with surgery, like bleeding, infection or a reaction to anesthesia
- For the Essure method, the coils may move out of place
- With Adiana, the inserts might not be placed properly the first time
- Also with Essure and Adiana, the uterus could be damaged during insertion (this is rare)
We’re here to get this method working better for you.
Sterilization is permanent so we won’t be suggesting any alternate methods, just trying to troubleshoot potential problems…
- I had a sterilization procedure several weeks ago and I’m still exhausted and sore.
It’s normal to be sore and tired for days or even weeks after some of the surgical procedures. However, if you’re concerned, or if you don’t start to regain your strength soon, you should check in with your doctor just in case.
- I’m having pregnancy symptoms even though I’m sterilized.
Sterilization is extremely effective and is intended to be permanent. Nevertheless, about 5 of every 1,000 women become pregnant within a year after the procedure and that small risk remains until menopause, so you should get a pregnancy test if you’re concerned.