On Your Health

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Know Your Birth Control Options Part 3: Permanent Contraception

A variety of factors will likely determine the right kind of birth control for you. Recently we spoke with Dr. Donald Brown, an OB/GYN at INTEGRIS, about the many different types of birth control available to help you choose the best option.

Today’s blog examines permanent contraceptive methods. Don’t forget to check back to On Your Health to read the other posts on barrier methods of birth control and hormonal contraceptive options.


Permanent contraception

If you do not want to have children in the future, permanent birth control, or sterilization, could be the choice for you. These methods are surgical and irreversible.

Both men and women can be sterilized. Men can have a vasectomy, where the sperm are prevented from leaving the testes by cutting, blocking or tying the vas deferens. Women can be sterilized via tubal ligation or a salpingectomy.

Vasectomy

A vasectomy is a simple male surgery done by a physician in a doctor's office or outpatient clinic. The small tubes in the scrotum that carry sperm are cut or blocked off, so sperm can’t leave a man's body and cause pregnancy. The procedure is quick and almost 100 percent effective against pregnancy.

There are two types of vasectomies: the incision method, and the no-scalpel (no-cut) method. No-cut methods lower the risk of infection and other complications, and generally take less time to heal.

Tubal ligation

Tubal ligation, or getting your tubes tied, is a female surgery typically performed in an outpatient clinic under general anesthesia or local or spinal anesthesia. During this procedure, one or two incisions are made in the abdomen to allow the insertion of the laparoscope. Then, the fallopian tubes are tied, clamped, banded or sealed to prevent pregnancy. This procedure can also be performed after a cesarean delivery or after childbirth.

Tubal ligation is not 100 percent effective for preventing pregnancy. “Tubal ligation is no more effective at preventing pregnancy than IUDs and the rod,” Dr. Brown says. “Tubal ligations do fail and can have painful side effects. In fact, 25 percent of patients who have a tubal ligation end up with a hysterectomy.”

Some tubal ligations can cause tubal ligation syndrome with painful, heavy menstrual cycles, which can be controlled with birth control pills or IUD insertion. Other side effects include pelvic pain and infection or damage to the bowel, bladder or major blood vessels.

Salpingectomy

A bilateral salpingectomy is a surgical procedure to remove both fallopian tubes. This prevents the eggs from traveling from the ovaries to the uterus. This procedure can be combined with an oophorectomy (surgical removal of one or both ovaries), cesarean section or hysterectomy. It is typically performed as a laparoscopic surgery in an outpatient clinic under anesthesia.

Complications are rare, but side effects may include infection, internal bleeding, hernia or damage to blood vessels. You can still have menstrual cycles after a salpingectomy as the ovaries and uterus are still intact.

“A salpingectomy is also a method for preventing ovarian cancer,” Dr. Brown says. “It has been found that ovarian cancer starts in the fallopian tubes. When you remove the tube, you cannot reverse the procedure, but there is also no chance of ovarian cancer.”

In conclusion

When selecting a birth control method, it is important to remember that nothing is 100 percent effective against everything. “You always need to do two things,” Dr. Brown says. “Hormonal contraceptives and permanent contraceptive methods keep you from getting pregnant — that's all they do. Barrier contraceptives help prevent pregnancy and some of them protect against sexually transmitted diseases, although not all do.” 

Don’t forget to check back to On Your Health to read the other posts on barrier methods of birth control and hormonal contraceptive options.

From fertility, labor and delivery to pediatrics, specialized breast care, heart health, gynecological care and everything in between, INTEGRIS brings exceptional care every woman deserves. For more information visit the INTEGRIS Women’s Health Network of Oklahoma.

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