Marriage is full of many tough decisions: Where to live? Which house to buy? Where to go on vacation? How many kids to have? When to stop having kids?
Even when you two can agree on something—like you’re definitely not having any more kids—how you go about that decision can be challenging.
Which one of you should be sterilized?
First of all, sterilization is the most common form of birth control in the U.S. and it’s the most effective. But who should it be? Should he get snipped, or should she get her tubes tied?
Let’s take a look at the two procedures, vasectomy vs. tubal ligation, and weigh the pros and cons.
Understanding Tubal Ligation
Tubal ligation is the most common form of sterilization, as nearly are 700,000 performed each year in the U.S. and couples are more likely to opt for tubal ligation than a vasectomy.
It can be done while a woman recovers from childbirth, or as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. As an outpatient procedure, known as interval tubal ligation, the surgeon makes an incision in the navel so the abdomen can be inflated with gas, usually carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide, and then a laparoscope is inserted into the abdomen.
Using instruments passed through the abdominal wall, the doctor seals the fallopian tubes by clamping, cutting or burning them to prevent eggs from moving to the uterus. You can usually go home several hours after the surgery. Recovery could take one to three weeks.
Understanding a Vasectomy
A vasectomy is a simple procedure that nearly 500,000 men in the U.S. undergo each year. It’s considered one of the safest and most effective forms of birth control.
The procedure can be performed at a physician’s office, and it usually takes 20-30 minutes. The doctor either makes a small puncture in the scrotum (or stretches the skin) to reach the vas deferens. The vas is then severed to prevent sperm travel.
Recovery takes about two days—though guys should refrain from strenuous activity and sex for about a week. Even after resuming sex, guys should use another form of birth control for about three months until their vas deferens are clear of lingering sperm.
How do you know they’re clear? Well, you have to check your sperm count. But you can spare yourself another trip to the doctor by using a home sperm test like SpermCheck, which tells you your sterility status within a few minutes.
The Pros and Cons
So which procedure is right for you? Let’s take a look.
Both procedures are considered safe and effective forms of sterilization, and many men and women have had successful surgeries. But when it comes to the risks, women may have more trouble with getting their tubes tied.
- Tubal ligation requires a general anesthesia while a vasectomy is done with local anesthesia
- Tubal ligation procedures take longer and are more complex than vasectomies
- Side-effects of tubal ligation include perforation of the intestine, infection, damage to the bowels, and prolonged pelvic or abdominal pain. Side-effects for vasectomy are less severe and include swelling, bruising, and pain
- Tubal ligation can cost $5,000-$8,000 while vasectomies cost $350-$1,000
- Tubal ligation recovery is usually longer than recovery from a vasectomy
When you look at the pros and cons, the scales tip in favor of vasectomies. Despite the facts, tubal ligation is still the more popular method. Maybe it’s because birth control and sterilization are considered the woman’s responsibility.
But as many women will argue, and several guys have agreed with, women’s bodies have gone through plenty of trauma with childbirth, so when it comes to sterilization, it’s time for guys to take one for the team.
Of course, the decision is up to you and your spouse. It’s not the first difficult choice you’ve made, and it certainly won’t be the last.