Female Sterilisation

female sterilisation

The tubes between the ovary and the womb (the Fallopian tubes) are cut or blocked with rings or clips. This stops the eggs which are released by the ovary from reaching the sperm.

The operation is usually done under general anaesthetic. For most women the operation is done with the help of a special telescope called a laparoscope. The laparoscope is inserted through a very small cut in your abdomen. Another small cut is then made to insert an instrument to apply clips or rings to your tubes. The clips or rings provide a block in the tubes and prevent egg meeting sperm. A larger cut may have to be made, and a more traditional operation done, in some women. This is more likely if you are overweight or have had previous operations.

A newer procedure is available in clinic under local anaesthetic. This is called hysteroscopic sterilisation. You will be awake and the doctor places an instrument in the vagina. A small camera and tube (hysteroscope) are then passed through the vagina and cervix. A very small implant (called a micro-insert) is placed into each Fallopian tube, which causes scar tissue to form in the Fallopian tubes. This eventually blocks them.

How reliable is female sterilisation?

It is more than 99% effective. Fewer than 1 woman out of 200 will become pregnant after sterilisation. Woman become pregnant because the tubes can, rarely, come back together again after being cut. If they were blocked, the clips can work their way off - even when they have been put on correctly.

Hysteroscopic sterilisation is as effective as laparoscopic sterilisation. The woman should use an additional form of contraception until the implants have been shown to be in the correct place. This is usually done by X-ray or ultrasound.

What are the advantages of female sterilisation?

It is permanent and you (and your partner) don't have to think about contraception again.

What are the disadvantages of female sterilisation?

As it is permanent, some people may regret having the operation in future years, particularly if their circumstances change.

Laparoscopic sterilisation is also not as easy to do, or as effective, as male sterilisation (vasectomy). As with any operation there is a risk of a wound infection and the slight risk from a general anaesthetic.

In hysteroscopic sterilisation there is no cut. The surgeon can also see what they are doing more easily.

How soon is it effective?

Ideally the procedure should be done whilst you have your period. This means you will not have produced an egg yet. In this case the procedure is effective immediately. Hysteroscopic sterilisation is also effective immediately.

Will it reduce my sex drive?

No. Sex may seem more enjoyable, as the worry of pregnancy and contraception is removed.

Some points to consider

Don't consider having the operation unless you and your partner are sure you do not want children, or further children. It will not solve any sexual problems. Other reversible methods of contraception are more effective, such as the intrauterine system (IUS), contraceptive implants and injections. Also, male sterilisation is easier to do and more effective.

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