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How Do Permanent Birth Control Options Measure Up?

Editor’s Note:  

While we grandparents delight in the news that we are going to be grandparents, there may come a time when we know being pregnant again may not be the best option for our daughters or daughters-in-law.  A lot has changed since we were young moms and birth control has changed significantly.

 Permanent birth control is the most common form of contraception, yet many women still don’t know all their options. In fact, a survey by HealthyWomen of 1,006 women found that while more than 75% reported being “done” having children, only 12% knew about surgery-free permanent birth control.

Many of these women may continue to believe that tubal ligation and vasectomy are the only permanent birth control choices, so they continue to use less effective, temporary methods like condoms and the Pill.  Yet the most effective form of permanent birth control is surgery-free and has been on the market for 10 years.


  • A surgery-free, hormone-free procedure that’s been trusted by more than 625,000 women and their doctors since 2002.
  • Women need virtually no downtime to recover from the procedure, which can be performed in less than 10 minutes in a doctor’s office.  Soft flexible inserts are placed into each fallopian tube and work with the body to form a natural barrier that prevents pregnancy.
  • Doctors perform a follow-up confirmation test after three months to verify that the inserts are in place and the fallopian tubes are fully blocked.
  • According to the HealthyWomen survey, 73% of women say they would be likely to consider permanent birth control if it promises no surgery, hormones or recovery time.

Tubal ligation

  • A surgical procedure performed at a hospital where sections of fallopian tubes are clamped, cut or burned to prevent future pregnancy. Tubal ligation carries all the risks of a major surgery, including anesthesia, pain and infections.
  • Women typically need 4-6 days to recover, with normal activities resuming in about a week(4).
  • Half of the women surveyed said they are “not at all likely” to consider tubal ligation.


  • An in-office surgical procedure, where a man’s vas deferens tubes are severed, burned and tied with permanent sutures.
  • Recovery time is 2-3 days, although some men cite feeling pain for a few months following the procedure. One study found that up to 15% of men still report pain seven months after their vasectomy(5).
  • A follow-up test is recommended three months after the vasectomy to confirm no sperm are present.
  • While more than one-third of women surveyed say their husbands offered to have a vasectomy, they find themselves waiting – many for more than five years – for their husbands to go through with it!

 Data on file. Conceptus®, Inc.

  1. Jamieson DJ, Costello C, Trussell J, Hillis SD, Marchbanks PA, Peterson HB; US Collaborative Review of Sterilization Working Group. The risk of pregnancy after vasectomy. Obstet Gynecol. 2004 May;103(5 Pt 1):848–50.
  2. Peterson HB, Xia Z, Hughes JM, Wilcox LS, Tylor LR, Trussell J. The risk of pregnancy after tubal sterilization: Findings from the US Collaborative Review of Sterilization. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Apr;174(4):1161–70
  3. WebMD “Tubal Ligation and Tubal Implants,” Accessed at: https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/tubal-ligation-and-tubal-implants, March 7, 2012.
  4. Leslie TA et al. “The incidence of chronic scrotal pain after vasectomy: a prospective audit.” BJU Int. 2007 Dec;100(6):1330-3. Epub 2007 Sep 10.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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