Female Contraception and Sterilization Options- Overview of Choices

March 14, 2011: Authored by: Alpha Health Asia Staff

Fortunately there are many options for female contraception and sterilization. These options include Surgical Contraception, Hormonal Methods, IUD’s, Barrier Methods and Natural Methods. We suggest detailed research of the different methods and consultations with your doctor about which method is the ideal method for you.

We have compiled a very brief overview of different methods along with the benefits of each method.

Different Methods:

  1. Surgical Contraception: commonly called tubal ligation (having your tubes tied) or female contraception. Tubal ligation is considered to be the most reliable method for preventing pregnancy and is considered a permanent method of sterilization (note, there are ways to reverse certain methods of tubal ligation). The procedure involves blocking the Fallopian Tubes with clips, rings or electro-surgery. There are generally three general methods for tubal ligation:
    • Laparoscopic tubal occlusion- clips or rings are used to close the Fallopian Tubes via small incisions made in the lower abdomen; this procedure can be performed at any time not related to a pregnancy.
    • Minilaprotomy- this is the method used immediately post partum for closing the Fallopian Tubes
    • Hysteroscopic Sterilizaiton- this procedure involves inserting a metal coil mechanism into the Fallopian Tubes hysteroscopically. This method does not involve surgery, scar tissue forms around the coils that have inserted into the tubes, leading to permanent blockage of the tubes.

    The decision to have surgical contraception must be evaluated carefully as it should be viewed as permanent, this method is the most reliable solution for long term sterilization and is very cost effective when adding up total expenses of non-permanent solutions. The use of clips and rings is well documented over the past 25 years as they have been used on millions (documented over 10 million) of patients; the latest method of hysteroscopic sterilization has only been used on 200,000 patients.

    Clips and rings provide immediate sterilization, hysteroscopic requires the scar tissue to form around the metal coil with a follow up visit three months following the sterilization procedure to evaluate the result; the patient will not be sterilized during this three-month period. There are ways to surgically reverse some methods of sterilization via clips; Hysteroscopic sterilization is not reversible and cannot be performed immediately after the birth of the child.

  2. Hormonal Methods: generally involving a birth control pill, hormonal injection or hormonal implant to affect the release of the egg. These methods, such as the birth control pill, have been used for years; the limitation is the lack of a permanent solution to sterilization and the overall reliability of the contraception if someone forgets to take their pill.
  3. IUD’s and IUS: both these devices are placed inside a woman’s uterus and prevent sperm from joining the egg by releasing copper or estrogen and their location in the uterus. The benefits of these methods include a low initial cost (based on the IUD/IUS staying in place for over 5 years) and a straightforward procedure.

    Challenges with IUD’s and IUS include slippage from the uterus and studies have shown that LNG-IUS on average only stays in place for 3.32 years; pregnancy can occur if there is movement or slippage. Another challenge- these are not permanent forms of sterilization and are not ideal for women seeking a permanent solution.

  4. Barrier Methods: a barrier, such as a condom or diaphragm, is used to prevent sperm from meeting the egg. Barrier methods are readily available, but can have a high failure rate if not applied correctly and are not a permanent solution.

When considering the options, please consult with your doctor, take time to research all options and base the decision based on meeting your long-term needs.

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