Female Sterilization

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Laparoscopic, abdominal, and hysteroscopic methods of female sterilization are available in the United States, and some of these procedures can be performed in an outpatient procedure or office setting. Fewer than 1 out of 100 women become pregnant in the first year after female sterilization (14). Because these methods are intended to be irreversible, all women should be appropriately counseled about the permanency of sterilization and the availability of highly effective, long-acting, reversible methods of contraception. Female sterilization does not protect against STDs; consistent and correct use of male latex condoms reduces the risk for STDs, including HIV.

When Hysteroscopic Sterilization Is Reliable for Contraception
  • Before a woman can rely on hysteroscopic sterilization for contraception, a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) must be performed 3 months after the sterilization procedure to confirm bilateral tubal occlusion.
  • The woman should be advised that she needs to abstain from sexual intercourse or use additional contraceptive protection until she has confirmed bilateral tubal occlusion.

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When Laparoscopic and Abdominal Approches Are Reliable for Contraception
  • A woman can rely on sterilization for contraception immediately after laparoscopic and abdominal approaches. No additional contraceptive protection is needed.

Comments and Evidence Summary. HSG confirmation is necessary to confirm bilateral tubal occlusion after hysteroscopic sterilization. The inserts for the hysteroscopic sterilization system available in the United States are placed bilaterally into the fallopian tubes and require 3 months for adequate fibrosis and scarring leading to bilateral tubal occlusion. After hysteroscopic sterilization, advise the woman to correctly and consistently use an effective method of contraception while awaiting confirmation. If compliance with another method might be a problem, a woman and her health-care provider may consider DMPA injection at the time of sterilization to ensure adequate contraception for 3 months. Unlike laparoscopic and abdominal sterilizations, pregnancy risk beyond 7 years of follow-up has not been studied among women who received hysteroscopic sterilization.

Pregnancy risk with at least 10 years of follow-up has been studied among women who received laparoscopic and abdominal sterilizations (305,306). Although these methods are highly effective, pregnancies can occur many years after the procedure, and the risk for pregnancy is higher among younger women (306,307).

A systematic review was conducted to identify studies that reported whether pregnancies occurred after hysteroscopic sterilization (308). Twenty-four studies were identified that reported whether pregnancies occurred after hysteroscopic sterilization and found that very few pregnancies occurred among women with confirmed bilateral tubal occlusion; however, few studies include long-term follow-up, and none with follow-up for >7 years. Among women who had successful bilateral placement, most pregnancies that occurred after hysteroscopic sterilization were in women who did not have confirmed bilateral tubal occlusion at 3 months, either because of lack of follow up or misinterpretation of HSG results (309311). Some pregnancies occurred within 3 months of placement, including among women who were already pregnant at the time of the procedure, women who did not use alternative contraception, or women who had failures of alternative contraception (310–315). Although these studies generally demonstrated high rates of bilateral placement, some pregnancies occurred as a result of lack of bilateral placement identified on later imaging (310,311,313–316). Most pregnancies occurred after deviations from FDA directions, which include placement in the early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, imaging at 3 months to document proper placement, and use of effective alternative contraception until documented occlusion (Level of evidence: II-3, fair, direct).

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