Female and Male Sterilization

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Tubal sterilization for women and vasectomy for men are permanent, safe, and highly effective methods of contraception. In general, no medical conditions absolutely restrict a person’s eligibility for sterilization (with the exception of known allergy or hypersensitivity to any materials used to complete the sterilization method). However, certain conditions place a woman at high surgical risk; in these cases, careful consideration should be given to the risks and benefits of other acceptable alternatives, including long-acting, highly effective, reversible methods and vasectomy. Female and male sterilization do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and women using these methods should be counseled that consistent and correct use of the male latex condom reduces the risk for transmission of HIV and other STDs. Use of female condoms can provide protection from transmission of STDs, although data are limited.

Because these methods are intended to be irreversible, persons who choose sterilization should be certain that they want to prevent pregnancy permanently. Most persons who choose sterilization remain satisfied with their decision. However, a small proportion of women regret this decision (1% – 26% from different studies, with higher rates of regret reported by women who were younger at sterilization) (1,2). Regret among men about vasectomy has been reported to be approximately 5% (3), similar to the proportion of women who report regretting their husbands’ vasectomy (6%) (4). Therefore, all persons should be appropriately counseled about the permanency of sterilization and the availability of highly effective, reversible methods of contraception.


  1. Hillis SD, Marchbanks PA, Tylor LR, Peterson HB. Poststerilization regret: findings from the United States Collaborative Review of Sterilization. Obstet Gynecol 1999;93:889–95. PubMed
  2. Peterson HB. Sterilization. Obstet Gynecol 2008;111:189–203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.AOG.0000298621.98372.62 PubMed
  3. Ehn BE, Liljestrand J. A long-term follow-up of 108 vasectomized men. Good counselling routines are important. Scand J Urol Nephrol 1995;29:477–81. http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/00365599509180030 PubMed
  4. Jamieson DJ, Kaufman SC, Costello C, Hillis SD, Marchbanks PA, Peterson HB; US Collaborative Review of Sterilization Working Group. A comparison of women’s regret after vasectomy versus tubal sterilization. Obstet Gynecol 2002;99:1073–9. PubMed
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