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Types of Permanent Birth Control

In the past, permanent birth control essentially meant women were forced to undergo a painful  surgical procedure. A hysterectomy was one of the only options women had if they desired a permanent form of birth control. But the tradeoff was a painful surgery in which a doctor makes an incision in the abdomen and removes the uterus. Today, there are two additional types of permanent birth control methods for women: sterilization implant, such as Essure, and surgical sterilization, also known as tubal ligation. Neither of these procedures requires the removal of sex organs. According to a research group at Northwestern, women between the ages of 40 and 44 have the second highest rate of unintended pregnancy. Since women spend about 30 years trying to prevent pregnancy, permanent birth control is often a preferable alternative to oral contraceptives and temporary implants.  

About Essure

Essure is a non-surgical procedure in which a doctor places an insert into the fallopian tube using a catheter. While you may feel some pressure or minor discomfort when receiving a sterilization implant, it can be performed without general anesthesia and does not require any incisions like a surgery. The soft micro-insert causes the tissue to grow in a way that results in the blockage in the fallopian tubes; the route sperm takes on the way to the egg. About 12 weeks after the procedure, you will undergo a special x-ray that can confirm successful placement of the micro-insert. In clinical trials, Essure was shown to be 99.8% effective after two years. By comparison, about five percent of women on oral contraceptives can get pregnant, mostly from forgetting to take the pill.

About Tubal Ligation

Tubal ligation is a procedure in which a surgeon places a clip or band around the fallopian tubes, cuts or ties the tubes, or burns the tubes in order to prevent sperm from traveling to the egg. Tubal ligation is an invasive procedure that requires your doctor to make an incision in your abdomen. For this reason, surgical sterilization is typically done in a hospital and women are given general or regional anesthesia. Recovery can take up to six days.

Pros and Cons

Essure and tubal ligation are both very common procedures. Planned Parenthood reports that for every 1,000 women who have Essure, less than three will become pregnant. For those who undergo a traditional surgical incision method, five will still achieve pregnancy. Studies show that both procedures are safe. If your micro-implant is not placed correctly, you will require a second placement procedure. Also, the inserts can be displaced, though this is rare. Risks from surgical sterilization are somewhat higher since patients are given anesthesia. As with any type of surgery, complications like bleeding and infection can occur. It also takes longer to recover from a surgical sterilization.

Deciding What Permanent Birth Control is Right for You

As with all types of permanent birth control, neither Essure nor surgical sterilization will prevent sexually transmitted diseases. So while you are nearly 100 percent protected from becoming pregnant, having unprotected sex is not advisable with any partner that you are not sure is disease free.