Q+A: Should We Consider Sterilization for Birth Control?

Which sterilization method is best: Having my tubes tied or my husband getting a vasectomy?

Q. Which is better for sterilization: having my tubes tied or my husband getting a vasectomy?

A. If you're considering getting your tubes tied, or your husband's thinking vasectomy, you're probably not wondering if it's reversible. Still, it's important to consider: An unexpected event -- divorce, the death of a spouse, even the death of a child -- could change your stance.

If you're certain you don't want any more children, the next question is usually who should get it. Currently, almost twice as many married women undergo sterilization than married men (22 percent vs. 11 percent). When it comes to convenience, a vasectomy is simpler -- a tubal ligation is a more invasive procedure with a greater risk of complications. But if you have any concerns about reversibility, it's generally easier to undo a tubal ligation, though the success rate varies depending on factors such as your age and the type of procedure you had. If a man's vasectomy isn't reversed within three years, he'll usually need an assisted reproductive technique to retrieve sperm.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the May 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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