Permanent Birth Control — Q & A

What is permanent birth control?

Permanent birth control refers to methods of birth control that are not intended to be reversed.

Why do women consider permanent birth control options?

Women consider permanent birth control when they know that their family is complete.

By their late thirties, 60 percent of American women have had at least one unintended pregnancy and almost 4 in 10 women aged 40-44 have had at least one unplanned birth. Additionally, 53 percent of unintended pregnancies have been reported to occur in women using some form of contraception. Statistics show that women who want two children spend roughly three decades trying to avoid pregnancy. Those women who have made the decision not to have any more children find the option of permanent birth control very appealing. Permanent birth control allows them to be more spontaneous with their partner and allows them to focus on their family and relationship.

What types of permanent birth control are available?

There are three types of permanent birth control: Essure, Tubal Ligation and Vasectomies.


Essure is a permanent birth control procedure that can be done in the comfort of a physician’s office in about thirteen minutes — without hormones, cutting, burning or the risks associated with general anesthesia and tubal ligation. Essure is 99.8 percent effective and remains at zero pregnancies in the clinical trials. During the procedure, small, flexible micro-inserts are placed into the woman’s fallopian tubes through the vagina and cervix without incisions. Within three months, the body forms a natural barrier around the micro-inserts that prevents sperm from reaching the egg. Three months after the Essure procedure, a test is performed to confirm that the tubes are fully blocked and that the woman can rely on Essure for permanent birth control. Until this test is performed, another form of birth control is necessary.

Developed, manufactured and marketed by Conceptus Inc. (NASDAQ:CPTS), Essure was FDA-approved in 2002 and has been used by over 180,000 women worldwide.

Tubal Ligation:

Tubal ligation surgery commonly is done either by laparoscopy or minilaparotomy.

A laparoscopy is performed by placing a light-transmitting instrument called a laparoscope into a small incision made in the navel. A second small incision may be made for an instrument used to hold the fallopian tubes. The tubes are then cut and closed with special thread or closed off with bands or clips. They also can be sealed with an electric current.

A minilaparotomy is used when a woman chooses to have tubal sterilization immediately after a vaginal delivery. In a minilaparotomy, a small incision is made in the abdomen. The fallopian tubes are brought up through the incision and they are tied and cut with suture or closed off with bands or clips.

For women who have had a cesarean delivery, a tubal ligation is done through the same incision that was made for delivery of the baby.

What are the risks of tubal ligation? 

The most common complications are those that are related to general anesthesia but bleeding and infection are risks as well. If laparoscopy is used, risks include injury to the bladder or bowel from the instruments. If an electric current is used to seal the fallopian tubes, there is a risk of burn injury to the skin or bowel.


During a vasectomy, an incision or puncture is made into the scrotum (the sac containing the testicles). The vas deferens tubes, which carry the sperm from the testicles, are tied in two places with permanent sutures. The tubes are then severed between the ties by cauterization (burning or searing of the tubes), cutting or blocking with clips or clamps. If an incision is made, it is then closed with stitches.

A sperm count test is performed at 3 months to confirm that the procedure is successful. Until this test is performed, another form of birth control is necessary.

Why choose Essure over tubal ligation?

Many women do not want to have a procedure that involves general anesthesia and a hospital visit. They simply prefer a minimally invasive option that does not require cutting or burning and has a quicker recovery time. Additionally, some women are not candidates for surgical tubal ligation due to health conditions such as obesity, allergy to anesthesia or certain heart conditions. The Essure procedure is a viable option for them.

The Essure procedure may not be suitable for all women and there are risks. The procedure is not reversible, and you must continue to use another form of birth control for at least three months after the procedure. Risks may include cramping/pain, nausea/vomiting, dizziness/lightheadedness, bleeding/spotting. Visit for a complete list of risks and considerations.