FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Sometimes people are too embarrassed, too busy, or just don’t know the right questions. The questions on this page should cover a lot of aspects of what you need to know though.

STERILIZATION

Will sterilization change a woman's monthly bleeding or make monthly bleeding stop?

No. Most research finds no major changes in bleeding patterns after female sterilization. If a woman was using a hormonal method or IUD before sterilization, her bleeding pattern will return to the way it was before she used these methods. For example, women switching from combined oral contraceptives to female sterilization may notice heavier bleeding as their monthly bleeding returns to usual patterns. Note, however, that a woman's monthly bleeding usually becomes less regular as she approaches menopause.

Will sterilization make a woman lose her sexual desire?

No. After sterilization a woman will look and feel the same as before. She can have sex the same as before. She may find that she enjoys sex more because she does not have to worry about getting pregnant.

Should sterilization be offered only to women who have had a certain number of children, who have reached a certain age, or who are married?

There is no justification for denying sterilization to a woman just because of her age, the number of her living children, or her marital status. Each woman must be allowed to decide for herself whether or not she will want more children and whether or not to have sterilization.

Does a woman who has had a sterilization procedure ever have to worry about getting pregnant again?

Female sterilization is very effective at preventing pregnancy and is intended to be permanent. It is not 100% effective, however. Women who have been sterilized have a slight risk of becoming pregnant: About 5 of every 1,000 women become pregnant within a year after the procedure. The small risk of pregnancy remains beyond the first year and until the woman reaches menopause.

Can sterilization be reversed if the woman decides she wants another child?

Sterilization is intended to be permanent. People who may want more children should choose a different contraceptive method. Surgery to reverse sterilization is possible for only some women—those who have enough fallopian tube left. Even among these women, reversal often does not lead to pregnancy. The procedure is difficult and expensive, and healthcare providers who are able to perform such surgery are hard to find. When pregnancy does occur after reversal, the risk that the pregnancy will be ectopic is greater than usual. Thus, sterilization should be considered irreversible.

Is it better for the woman to have female sterilization or the man to have a vasectomy?

Each couple must decide for themselves which method is best for them. Both are very effective, safe, permanent methods for couples who know that they will not want more children. Ideally, a couple should consider both methods. If both are acceptable to the couple, vasectomy would be preferable because it is easier conducted than female sterilization.

Will the female sterilization procedure hurt?

Yes, a little. Women receive local anesthetic to stop pain, and, except in special cases, they remain awake. A woman can feel the healthcare provider moving her uterus and fallopian tubes. This can be uncomfortable. If a trained anesthetist or anesthesiologist and suitable equipment are available, general anesthesia may be chosen for women who are very frightened of pain. A woman may feel sore and weak for several days or even a few weeks after surgery, but she will soon regain her strength.

Will vasectomy make a man lose his sexual ability or desire?

No. After vasectomy, a man will look and feel the same as before. He can have sex the same as before. His erections will be as hard and last as long as before, and ejaculations of semen will be the same.

Does a man need to use another contraceptive method after a vasectomy?

Yes, he has to for the first 3 months. If his partner has been using a contraceptive method, she can continue to use it during this time. Not using another method for the first 3 months is the main cause of pregnancies among couples relying on vasectomy.

Is it possible to check if a vasectomy is working?

A doctor or healthcare provider can examine a semen sample under a microscope to see if it still contains sperm. If only no moving (motile) sperm can be detected, the vasectomy is working. A semen examination is recommended at any time after 3 months following the procedure, but is not essential.

What if the partner gets pregnant after vasectomy?

Every man having a vasectomy should know that vasectomies sometimes fail and his partner could become pregnant as a result. If a man's partner becomes pregnant during the first 3 months after his vasectomy, remind the man that for the first 3 months they needed to use another contraceptive method. If possible, offer a semen analysis and, if sperm are found, a repeat vasectomy.

Will the vasectomy stop working after a time?

Vasectomy is intended to be permanent. In rare cases, however, the tubes that carry sperm grow back together and the man will require a repeat vasectomy.

Can a man have his vasectomy reversed if he decides that he wants another child?

Vasectomy is intended to be permanent. People who may want more children should choose a different contraceptive method. Surgery to reverse vasectomy is possible for only some men and reversal often does not lead to pregnancy. The procedure is difficult and expensive, and providers who are able to perform such surgery are hard to find. Thus, vasectomy should be considered irreversible.

Is it better for the man to have a vasectomy or for the woman to have female sterilization?

Each couple must decide for themselves which method is best for them. Both are very effective, safe, permanent methods for couples who know that they will not want more children. Ideally, a couple should consider both methods. If both are acceptable to the couple, vasectomy would be preferable because it is easier conducted than female sterilization.

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