You have a beautiful family, and you and your spouse agree your family is complete. You might then start considering a more permanent birth control options to prevent any further pregnancies. As you consider your options between a tubal ligation vs vasectomy take the following factors into consideration. Understanding the pros and cons of each should help you make the best decision for your personal situation.
What is a Tubal Ligation & a Vasectomy?
A tubal ligation or “getting your tubes tied” is a permanent form of birth control for women. This is a surgical procedure in which a surgeon makes some small incisions and uses a laparoscopic device to go into the abdomen and tie off, block, cut or remove(salpingectomy) the fallopian tubes. This prevents the egg and the sperm from being able to connect and fertilize.
A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control for men that can be done as an outpatient procedure in your urologist’s office. Your urologist will cut or tie the vas deferens, which is a thin muscular tube that carries the sperm from the testicles into the ejaculate. The sperm will now be released into the man’s body and will be reabsorbed after several days. It is performed under local anesthetic or a very light sedation and takes about 15-30 minutes to complete.
What are the Risks?
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Damage to bowel, bladder, or blood vessels
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Improper wound healing
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Sometimes Death
What to Expect in Recovery
For a tubal ligation you can expect to recover in about 2 weeks and expect to go home the same day after several hours in the recovery room. On rare occasions you may have to spend the night in the hospital if any complications arise or you have difficulty with anesthesia. Post procedure you will have two small laparoscopic scars and can expect to experience some shoulder pain (gas pain), throat pain (from tube in throat from anesthesia), bloating, vaginal bleeding and discharge. After discharge from the hospital you will need to avoid strenuous activities until cleared by your surgeon, but can expect to be able to perform normal day to day activities.
Comparing tubal ligation vs vasectomy the recovery is vastly different. Vasectomy recovery is quick, easy and the procedure typically only lasts about 30 minutes. Since only local anesthetic is used you can go home almost immediately after the procedure. You can expect some mild discomfort for about 2-3 days and some slight swelling or bruising. Treatment typically includes applying an ice pack and Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain relief. Strenuous activity is to be avoided for 2 weeks and contact sports avoided for 1 month.
Now the cost for each procedure will vary based on your location, surgeon, and type of insurance coverage. However, a vasectomy is typically anywhere from $0-$1,000 and is about 6 x cheaper than a tubal ligation which ranges between $0-$6,000. The reason for the large cost difference is related to the necessity for an anesthesiologist, operating room, surgical support staff, and recovery room for a tubal ligation in addition to the surgeon. In the case of a vasectomy you only have to pay for the surgeon.
Both procedures are considered safe and most complications are very rare. Tubal ligations do pose a small risk of ectopic pregnancies in 1 out of every 200 women. This is when a pregnancy occurs and cannot implant in the uterus. The pregnancy then develops outside the uterus and can cause a very dangerous life threatening situation that requires emergency surgery.
Both procedures are considered permanent sterilization methods and reversals are possible, but not very effective. Insurance companies most often do not cover any of the cost of a reversal so you could be paying for the procedure out of pocket. So really consider your options prior to choosing either method.
Frequently Asked Questions
When comparing a tubal ligation vs vasectomy It appears to me that the vasectomy is by far the easiest choice to make when a married couple is looking to prevent any further pregnancies. It is the most cost effective, safe, and has the best recovery time. There are many reasons why a tubal ligation would make more sense for your family or situation. Whatever your choice may be, use the information you need to make an educated and informed decision for your personal situation.
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.