When you’re done having children, you’re done. Or are you?
This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself before going down the road of permanent birth control, or sterilization. There are multiple forms of permanent birth control out there, and there are pros and cons to each.
If you’re considering permanent birth control methods, keep in mind that they can’t always be reversed so it’s important that you feel 100% confident with your final decision. If there is even a hint of doubt, you are better off using more traditional routes of birth control until you are completely ready.
We highly recommend scheduling an appointment with your OB/GYN or general physician, dedicated to discussing your feelings, your options, and which methods might be best for you. One thing to keep in mind is that the techniques used for permanent birth control in women (tubal ligation and Essure or Adiana systems) are much more difficult – or impossible – to reverse when compared with a vasectomy.
Questions to ask yourself before pursuing permanent birth control
In the meantime, here are questions to ask yourself before making this serious decision.
How old are you?
If you’re in your 20s, it’s difficult to support a woman’s decision to never have children. That is especially true for women who have never had kids and feel they’ll never want them. We can’t tell you how many women we know who thought they never wanted kids, or that they were done having children, in their late-20s or even very early 30s, who ended up really wanting to have a baby later on.
Hormones are a powerful force, as is financial stability, finding the right mate or a shift in life interests. This isn’t to say that we won’t perform a tubal ligation or Essure procedure on women in their 20s, we just want to have a pretty lengthy conversation – or series of conversations – before the final decision is made.
Women in their 30s, and certainly in their 40s, should still be very diligent in their decision making, but the doctor may not be as thorough about pressing certain matters.
If you’re in a partnership: Why isn’t your partner getting a vasectomy?
There is absolutely no doubt about it, the simplest and most risk-free way to prevent having children in a permanent way is for the male-half of the relationship to have a vasectomy. Period. It is difficult to understand situations where the male flatly refuses to have a vasectomy but expects his partner to undergo full-blown surgery (tubal ligation) or a tubal blocking procedure that unarguably have higher rates of failure and/or serious side-effects than a vasectomy does.
Vasectomies are very simple, straightforward procedures that take place in a doctor’s office, without anesthesia and in under 20-minutes. Any pain or discomfort are limited to the few days afterwards. The immediate risks are exceedingly minimal and there are zero long-term risks. The same is not true for tubal ligations or other forms of permanent female birth control.
Are you sure you don’t want any more children (or that you’ll never want children)?
Or, perhaps the better question is, How do you know you’re sure? This is a decision that should gradually build up over time, not one that is decided on one of your worst days of the week, or when you’re enmeshed in a horrid toddler phase with seemingly no hope on the horizon.
It is also not a decision that should be made after a major shift in your life plan (aka a miserable marriage or a divorce). Life can seem like it’s never going to change, but it often does – and with that change can come drastic changes in outlooks or desires as well.
We believe that women need to think about ALL of the potentials before pursuing permanent birth control methods:
- If something happened to your partner, are you still 100% sure you’d never want children again? Especially if you’re younger and more likely to remarry?
- If something happened to one of your children, are you sure you’d never want another baby?
- Is your youngest child three-years old or younger?
- Do you have only one or two children?
It can be emotionally difficult to really spend time going in and considering the answers to these questions, but we recommend you do so because we’ve seen every situation under the sun over the years. There have been very tragic moments watching as a mother grieves her former decision to get permanent birth control when it turns out – for whatever reason – she wants another baby and can’t.
Which form of permanent sterilization is right for you?
This can be a hard decision and, again, we recommend spending time with your doctor weighing the pros and cons of each.
For example, a tubal ligation (TL) does require a surgical procedure (even though it’s usually done with lasers and requires a minimal incision) while the Essure device is inserted in the doctor’s office, using mild anesthesia, in less than 15-minutes. On the flip side, there are more long-term risks for Essure, known to begin perforating tissue in the pelvic and abdomen over time, whereas long-term risks of TL are less common.
The success rates of both procedures is in the 99% range. However, any pregnancy resulting from Essure will typically result in an ectopic pregnancy. Also, women who choose the Essure system will have to use another form of birth control for at least three-months after the micro-inserts are put into place. This allows the fallopian tube tissue time to grow over and through the spring-like devices, blocking the egg from passing through the tube and being fertilized (this device is what has been known to continue migrating, causing issues elsewhere in the pelvis).
Which version does my health insurance cover?
As you can imagine, the cost of performing a tubal ligation or the Essure procedure is far less than the costs associated with pregnancy, labor and delivery, etc. That being said, most health insurance companies will cover the costs of a tubal ligation, while the Essure system might require out of pocket financing.
Are you having a C-Section with this last and final baby?
If you’re pregnant, are 100% confident this is the last child, and you’re planning to have a C-Section, talk to your doctor about having a tubal ligation performed at the same time. This is an ideal time to have the procedure since you’re already under anesthesia and opened up. The less anesthesia and surgery we experience in our lifetimes, the better!
Interested in weighing the pros and cons for all permanent birth control options? Visit us here at Overlake and we’ll be happy to go over them all with you and answer any questions you may have. The ultimate goal is to make the decision that will provide the healthiest, long-term outcome for your physical and mental well-being.