An Overview of Voluntary Sterilization

There are various different methods of birth control available in the United States. One such method of birth control is voluntary sterilization. The process of sterilization is intended to be permanent in nature. In some instances sterilization may be reversed however reversal is not guaranteed once the sterilization process is completed. Sterilization may involve surgery and a hospital stay or may involve outpatient services. Voluntary sterilization includes:

  • Tubaligations or hysterectomies for females.
  • Vasectomies for males.

Tubal sterilization involves the process of blocking the fallopian tubes. A vasectomy is the process of blocking the two tubes that carry sperm.

Effectiveness of Sterilization

Both tubal sterilization and vasectomies are among the most effective contraceptive methods available in the United States. For every 1,000 women who are sterilized, only five will become pregnant during the first year. Additionally, for every 1,000 men who are sterilized, fewer than two will cause pregnancy during the first year.

Advantages of Sterilization

Many women and men find numerous advantages to voluntary sterilization. Some of the advantages include:

  • Typically, no side effects.
  • Does not affect sexual function.
  • Low lifetime costs after initial cost of procedure is paid.

Disadvantages of Sterilization

Although not typical, disadvantages with respect to voluntary sterilization may result. Complications may result from either a tubaligation or a vasectomy. There may be bleeding, pain, a reaction to the anesthetic used, or swelling or bruising.

Why Do Women or Men Choose Voluntary Sterilization?

Women and men chose voluntary sterilization for numerous reasons. Some of the reasons that voluntary sterilization is selected include:

  • Birth control.
  • Medical issues.
  • Hereditary issues.

Spousal Consent For Voluntary Sterilization

It is unclear whether the consent of one’s spouse is necessary for the other spouse to exercise voluntary sterilization. The United States Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue. However, with respect to caselaw that exists it leads to the conclusion that it may be unconstitutional for a state to limit a spouse’s right to voluntary sterilization.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.