How many children do you want to have? That is a question we are asked from an early age and especially leading up to marriage. The decision is very personal; perhaps you may choose to not have children at all, or you may have health concerns that influence your decision.
Whatever your circumstances may be, at some point you and your partner may be wondering if there are permanent birth control options available. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that permanent birth control is the second most common method of birth control used today.
According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of HealthyWomen, many women do not know their permanent birth control options and haven't discussed their options with their Women's Health Specialist.
Am I Ready for Permanent Birth Control?
Deciding you are officially done having children is a big decision because there is no turning back. Age, financial situation, and current number of children play a big role in your decision. Permanent birth control is permanent, so if you are young, going through major life changes, in an unstable relationship, or postpartum, it might be a good idea to hold off on making such a major decision. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you consider this option.
- Am I finished having children?
- Is my partner sure he doesn't want more children?
- Am I considering this because my partner wants it?
- If my marital circumstances change, would I want children in the future?
- Do I have medical issues that make pregnancy unsafe?
- Am I happy with my current birth control method?
- Do I worry about unplanned pregnancy?
- Am I comfortable with a hormonal birth control method?
- Would I like a worry-free form of birth control?
- Do I want permanent birth control?
- Have I discussed all my birth control options with my doctor?
- Am I emotionally stable?
Why Choose Permanent Birth Control?
Some benefits of permanent birth control include not having to worry about an unplanned pregnancy or taking hormones. Women like that they do not have to remember to take a pill daily or remember to set up a regular injection appointment that would be required with other less permanent methods of birth control. Permanent birth control may also be more effective than temporary options because there is no daily or regular updates.
What Are My Options?
For women, there are two options of permanent birth control. The first option is a non-surgical procedure called Essure®. The Essure procedure is usually completed in about 10 minutes and can be performed right in your doctor’s office.
The second option is tubal litigation, other wise known as "getting your tubes tied." This method involves a surgery in which your tubes are closed, severed, or blocked with a clip.
For men, permanent birth control is a vasectomy. This is an outpatient surgery performed under local anesthesia. The doctor will cut the vas deferens which prevents sperm from traveling through the tube. A follow up appointment is needed to ensure the procedure is successful.
Another Option: Semi-permanent Birth Control
If you're not sure about such a permanent decision, another option is a long-term birth control solution such as an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD). This is a small, plastic, flexible, T-shaped device that is placed into the uterus (womb). There are two types of IUDs. One type can be kept in place for 10 years and contains copper, which is slowly released into the uterine cavity. The copper stops the sperm from making it through the vagina and uterus to reach the egg, thus preventing fertilization.) Another kind of IUD contains a small amount of hormone and is kept in place for 5 years.
Once the IUD has been inserted, the woman does not need to take any further steps to prevent pregnancy. The IUD is placed into the uterus through the cervix by a trained healthcare provider. The IUD is 99% effective.
You should discuss the risks and benefits of an IUD, or other birth control options, with your women's health specialist.
The Risks and Benefits
The effectiveness of permanent birth control is more than 99%. Surgery, or tubal litigation, for females is more invasive and requires more recovery time than other forms of permanent birth control. Reversing permanent birth control is very difficult, and often unsuccessful. Permanent birth control, in whatever form, is a decision that can't be made lightly. If there is ever any possibility that you or your spouse will want to become pregnant, looking in to other options may be a good idea.