In today’s world, women are busy with careers, raising families and trying to achieve a work/life balance. So when a decision is made that your family is complete, what contraceptive options are permanent and safe?
Permanent sterilization procedures have traditionally been performed in a hospital or ambulatory surgery center. These include:
Postpartum tubal ligation to tie the fallopian tubes after childbirth Laparoscopic closure of the tubes, commonly referred to as “tying the tubes” A vasectomy for males that blocks the vas deferens - the thin tubes in the scrotum that carry sperm from the testicles
Both postpartum and laparoscopic sterilizations involve small incisions into the abdomen while under general anesthesia. Recovery from these surgeries depends on pain tolerance, the type of anesthesia used and individual healing ability.
Another increasingly popular option with women is an in-office hysteroscopic sterilization known by the brand name Essure®.
This non-surgical, hormone-free procedure is done in the doctor’s office. It involves placing a soft, flexible insert device through the vagina, cervix and uterus and into the fallopian tubes.
Over the course of a few months, the device and the body form a natural barrier that prevents sperm from reaching the egg. After three months, a simple dye test is taken to confirm that the insert is in place and the fallopian tubes are blocked. This sterilization procedure is more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
Melissa Stoffel, D.O., OB/GYN physician at Marshfield Clinic Weston Center, has been performing this procedure for five years. She said it is the most requested permanent option at Weston Center when family is complete. In the three months immediately following the procedure, “Your body and the coils work to form a natural barrier, like a roadblock, to permanently prevent the sperm from reaching the egg,” Dr. Stoffel explained.
During this three-month period, women must use some form of birth control. “Women need to remember that they are not sterile until the barrier is complete, as verified by the dye test,” Dr. Stoffel said. If after three months, the barrier has not formed, the dye test must be repeated within six months of the procedure.
Dr. Stoffel said that she sees the best outcomes with the coil placement when the uterine lining is thinner, which is most possible when women are taking hormonal birth control medication.
This method offers several advantages when compared to the traditional, surgical methods of tubal ligation:
No incisions made • Minimal anesthesia needed • Minimal discomfort reported Procedure done in 20 minutes Faster recovery – can resume normal activity the next day. Confirmation with a three-month test
As with any procedure, there is a small risk of failure. This is also non-reversible, so Dr. Stoffel counsels patients to make certain they do not want any more children.
“With minimal pain and down time, and the 100 percent assurance that is provided by the confirmation test, this procedure takes the worry out of family planning for busy, active moms,” said Dr. Stoffel.