First Avenue Family Practice
Sterilisation. Him or her?Couples wanting no more children should think very carefully before undergoing sterilisation. Although the operation can sometimes be reversed, there is no guarantee. Ask yourself if you would regret your decision if your marriage ended or you lost a child.
Tubal ligation for women
This operation is usually done under a general anaesthetic and requires a day in hospital. Two small incisions are made in the abdomen and a tiny telescope (laparoscope) is inserted. The fallopian tubes are blocked off by a clip or elastic band or by cutting and tying them, preventing sperm from travelling up to meet the egg. The operation is effective immediately.
In spite of what many people think, tubal ligation does not cause heavier periods or greater risk of hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). Sexual intercourse and sexual feelings remain the same after the operation.
However, there are small risks from the anaesthetic and the operation itself (infection, bleeding). Also, if you do become pregnant, there is a greater chance of an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the tube).
Vasectomy for men
This is a much simpler and less risky procedure. The tube (vas deferens) carrying sperm from the testicle to the penis is cut and tied. The operation is usually done under local anaesthetic and there is generally only minor dis-comfort afterwards. Condoms should be used until tests show no sperm are present – usually about 3 months.
Vasectomy has no effect on sex drive and men still have normal erections and ejaculation. There is no increased risk of heart disease, cancer or other serious disease.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
Source: Summer 1999 edition of Your Health Newsletter