Female Surgical Sterilization

Permanent Birth Control


What is female sterilization?

Tubal ligation is a very effective way to achieve permanent infertility in women through a routine surgical procedure. In the United States, 28% of reproductive aged women have chosen tubal sterilization for birth control.

How does surgical sterilization work?

The process is often referred to as "tying the tubes," but in reality the fallopian tubes may be tied, clamped, blocked or cut. This prevents sperm from joining the unfertilized egg. Although sterilization is an attractive alternative to reversible methods, as it does away with the need for planning and forethought before sex, it has its set of drawbacks, including potential side-effects and permanence.

How effective is female sterilization?


Annual Failure Rate

Surgical sterilization is very effective, having a failure rate of only 0.5% per year.

Side-effects and health risks of female sterilization

Sterilization requires anesthesia and careful abdominal surgery, which carries potential health risks. Complications aside from surgery include uterine perforation and infection. The medical risks are greater when a hysterectomy is performed solely for sterilization, therefore a hysterectomy should not be used for this function. Long-term health risks arising because of sterilization include ectopic pregnancy, disturbances of the menstrual cycle (an increase in pain and bleeding), and gynecological problems which may make it more likely a hysterectomy will be needed in the future.

Considerations for Christians

Surgical sterilization is generally presented only to married women. This is because it is a permanent method, used mostly by older women who already have children and decided not to have any more.

Surgical Sterilization is considered artificial contraception, and as such is not permissible for use by Roman Catholics — maybe even more so than other methods due to its finality. Most Protestant denominations do not have issue with surgical sterilization used within a marriage.

Related Links

Source for Failure Rates: RA Hatcher et al, "Female and Male Sterilization," Contraceptive Technology, Ardent Media, 2005.

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