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revised Wednesday April 22 2009
healthy sexuality
Birth Control Methods

Sterilization: Tubal Ligation & Vasectomy

Sterilization is a permanent method of birth control where, through surgery, part of the reproductive system is blocked.

Sterilization prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from making contact with an egg.

Sterilization Procedures

Sterilization for women is called a tubal ligation. It is also known as "getting your tubes tied".

During a tubal ligation a surgeon closes off the fallopian tubes through which the egg travels.

Sterilization for men is called a vasectomy. During a vasectomy, a doctor closes off the tubes through which the sperm travels.

Vasectomies and tubal ligations are covered by OHIP and don’t require your partner's permission. (Reversals, however, are NOT covered by OHIP.)

Tubal Ligation

A tubal ligation is done in the hospital. The doctor makes one or more small incisions in the abdomen or vagina in order to reach the fallopian tubes. The tubes are cut or clamped so the sperm can’t meet with the egg.

A tubal ligation requires a general anaesthetic. Most women who have tubal ligation surgery return home the same day or the morning after the surgery.


A vasectomy can be done in either a doctor's office or at a hospital outpatient department.

After giving a local anaesthetic to freeze the scrotum, the doctor makes one or two small incisions in the scrotum to reach the vas deferens (the tube which carries sperm from the testes). The doctor cuts the vas deferens and then ties, stitches, or clips the ends.

Vasectomy will not affect your masculinity. A vasectomy does not cause a change in voice, hair loss or a decrease in sexual drive. There will be no noticeable change in volume of ejaculate. After the procedure it will take between 12 and 15 ejaculations before the semen is free of sperm, so alternate birth control must be used during that period of time.



Tubal ligation and vasectomy are almost 100% effective* but do not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

* source: The College of Family Physicians of Canada


Advantages & Disadvantages



  • Offers permanent protection against pregnancy
  • Has no lasting side effects
  • Allows for sexual spontaneity
  • Requires no daily attention
  • Doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.
  • Requires surgery.
  • Has risks associated with surgery.
  • Is very rarely reversible in men and women.
  • Might be a decision you’ll regret if you choose to have children at a later date.

Cautions & Things to Consider

Sterilization Doesn’t Protect Against STIs

Sterilization won’t protect you or your partner from STIs including HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B. Use a condom every time you have sexual intercourse to reduce your chances of getting an STI, including HIV/AIDS.

Sterilization is PERMANENT

Sterilization is intended to make you infertile and usually can’t be reversed.

While microsurgery has increased the possibility of re-joining fallopian tubes in femals and vas deferens tubes in males, the success rate is very low. The reversal also involves major surgery. Be sure that you’re choosing this method of birth control for the right reasons.

Sterilization is NOT the right decision to make if:
  • You’re currently under a lot of stress.
  • You’ve recently separated or divorced.
  • You’re not positive that you don’t want children (or more children). (If you have doubts about sterilization, choose another form of birth control until you are sure.

Although your partner should be as fully informed as you are, don’t have a tubal ligation or vasectomy if your partner is pressuring you or you’re not ready. You doctor will explain the risks and possible complications that might arise with this type of surgery.


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Revised: Wednesday April 22 2009

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