Objective: To evaluate the cumulative probability of regret after tubal sterilization, and to identify risk factors for regret that are identifiable before sterilization.
Methods: We used a prospective, multicenter cohort study to evaluate the cumulative probability of regret within 14 years after tubal sterilization. Participants included 11,232 women aged 18-44 years who had tubal sterilizations between 1978 and 1987. Actuarial life tables and Cox proportional hazards models were used to identify those groups at greatest risk of experiencing regret.
Results: The cumulative probability of expressing regret during a follow-up interview within 14 years after tubal sterilization was 20.3% for women aged 30 or younger at the time of sterilization and 5.9% for women over age 30 at sterilization (adjusted relative risk [RR] 1.9; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.6, 2.3). For the former group, the cumulative probability of regret was similar for women sterilized during the postpartum period (after cesarean, 20.3%, 95% CI 14.5, 26.0; after vaginal delivery, 23.7%, 95% CI 17.6, 29.8) and for women sterilized within 1 year after the birth of their youngest child (22.3%, 95% CI 16.4, 28.2). For women aged 30 or younger at sterilization, the cumulative probability of regret decreased as time since the birth of the youngest child increased (2-3 years, 16.2%, 95% CI 11.4, 21.0; 4-7 years, 11.3%, 95% CI 7.8, 14.8; 8 or more years, 8.3%, 95% CI 5.1, 11.4) and was lowest among women who had no previous births (6.3%, 95% CI 3.1, 9.4).
Conclusion: Although most women expressed no regret after tubal sterilization, women 30 years of age and younger at the time of sterilization had an increased probability of expressing regret during follow-up interviews within 14 years after the procedure.