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question

Is long term birth control better than vasectomy?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
answer
Women or couples who have decided they wish to prevent any future pregnancies want birth control that is highly effective and easy to use. Vasectomy is outpatient surgery for the man that cuts the vas deferens, the tubes connecting sperm production to ejaculation. It fits the bill of being highly effective, with failures ranging from zero to 5 per 1000 method users in the first year after the procedure. It is also permanent. The effectiveness and permanence of female steriization, having the fallopian tubes surgically interrupted, is about the same as vasectomy.  The permanence of sterilization procedures is an important feature to consider. More than one in ten women later regret having a sterilization procedure. The chances of regretting her decision are doubled in women who are under age 30, or have had a baby within the last year.
Long term birth control is another possible choice. The effectiveness ranges up there with sterilizaton. For couples that are not entirely sure whether they might wish another pregnancy or not, long term birth control has the advantage that fertility can be restored. Long term birth control needs to be renewed at schedules dependent on the type of birth control chosen. Intrauterine devices (IUD) are as effective as sterilizaton. Depending on the type of IUD chosen, they need to be replaced at 10 years or 5 years. The 5-year IUD, Mirena, has the additional benefit of reducing or stopping menstrual bleeding for women who desire this. The implant, Implanon, provides highly effective birth control for 3 years. The progestin injection, Depo Provera, must be renewed every 12 weeks. Both of these methods also reduce menstrual bleeding but may have irregular bleeding or spotting as a side effect. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.