What does sterilization involve?

Sterilization can be done for both men and women. Sterilization for men is called a vasectomy and sterilization for women is called a tubal ligation. Some physicians may refuse a client’s request for sterilization due to age and/or if s/he has never had children.

How is sterilization done?

For men: The tubes leading from the scrotum that join with the urethra are cut, clamped, cauterized, or tied. These tubes are called the vas deferens. It is a procedure that can be done in a doctor’s office using a local anaesthetic.

For women: The tubes leading from the ovaries to the uterus are cut, clamped, cauterized, or tied. These tubes are known as the fallopian tubes. It is a surgical procedure usually performed in a hospital, using a general anaesthetic.

How effective is it?

Sterilization is a very effective method of contraception. Tubal ligation is 99.5% effective immediately. Vasectomy is 99.85% effective but is not immediately effective (see Special Considerations, below)

Are there any adverse effects from these procedures?

There are no effects on the sexual health of either men or women who have this procedure done.


  • No supplies or future clinic visits needed, once effective
  • Nothing to interrupt intercourse
  • Permanent
  • 40 % reduction in risk of ovarian cancer with tubal ligation
  • High effectiveness


  • Regret for decision
  • Permanent
  • Lack of protection against sexually transmitted infections
  • Need for a surgical procedure
  • Higher risk of ectopic pregnancy if failure occurs with tubal ligation
  • Vasectomy requires a backup method until effective

Special Considerations

  • Vasectomies are not effective immediately. The male has to monitor his sperm count for approximately three months (or 20 ejaculations) following the procedure. Once his semen is examined to ensure there is no sperm in the ejaculate, the procedure is considered effective.
  • The surgical procedure for a tubal ligation is much more complicated than for a vasectomy and the recovery time is also longer for the patient.

Revised March 2009