Female sterilization. Evidence

Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2000 Dec;27(4):859-99. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8545(05)70175-3.


The literature review herein reveals substantial information regarding the safety, efficacy, short-term complications, long-term complications, and noncontraceptive benefits of sterilization. This information should be helpful for providers and potential sterilization candidates. The review also reveals areas where the data are unclear. Points to keep in mind during counseling include the following: The vast majority of women are satisfied with the decision to undergo sterilization. The fact that regret occurs underscores the importance of counseling and adequate individual deliberation before the procedure. In addition to the difficulty and expense associated with sterilization reversal, the woman should thoroughly understand the permanence of the procedure. Although failure is a rare event, it can occur many years after the procedure. Although evidence suggests that hysterectomy rates are higher in sterilized women aged less than 30 to 35 years, it is unlikely that there is a plausible biologic effect of sterilization on hysterectomy risk. An association between tubal sterilization and menstrual cycle changes does not seem valid for changes noted up to 2 years after the procedure. Data are unclear and inconsistent among studies observing women more than 2 years after the procedure. Evidence consistently shows that sterilization is associated with a reduced incidence of ovarian cancer and pelvic inflammatory diseases. Most studies show no effect or improvement of sexual satisfaction after sterilization. Complications during and postprocedure are rare. Sterilization provides no protection against the acquisition of sexually transmitted disease. Patients and their physicians should recognize that sterilized women may need more targeted preventive efforts for health screening and to reduce high-risk behavior than women who use other contraceptive methods. The surgeon's experience and the woman's preferences should govern the ultimate decision regarding the approach and occlusion method. Level II-2 evidence indicates comparable safety between interval laparoscopy and minilaparotomy. Data consistently show that in experienced trained hands, tubal sterilization is safe and highly effective regardless of the approach or occlusive method. Attention to the subtleties of technique seems to be most important in ensuring procedure safety and efficacy. Reanalysis of the CREST data shows that the cumulative failure rate of bipolar coagulation is comparable with the failure rate of unipolar coagulation if a substantial length of tube is adequately coagulated. The data discussed herein can be used to guide management decisions that may increase accessibility and reduce cost of the procedure. Low-resource settings and office settings have maintained an excellent safety record for this procedure through performance of sterilization under local anesthesia. The use of local anesthesia enables a change in procedure location from an inpatient operating room to a free-standing surgical clinic or adequately equipped office. Local anesthesia, with or without preoperative medication, is an excellent option associated with a lower complication risk, reduced cost, and shorter, easier recovery. The surgeon should have specific training in the effective use of local anesthetics, preoperative medications, and management of rare complications in low-resource settings. Little additional research is needed regarding the safety and efficacy of standard sterilization approaches and occlusion methods. There is a need for continued development of nonsurgical methods of sterilization, microlaparoscopic approaches performed in the office setting, and the feasibility and acceptance of service provision by nonspecialist health care providers. The evidence indicates that female sterilization can be performed safely in a variety of resource settings ranging from rural sterilization camps in developing countries to high-tech, resource-rich operating rooms in developed c

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced
  • Analgesia
  • Anesthesia / adverse effects
  • Electrocoagulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Laparotomy / methods
  • Ligation / methods
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Postpartum Period
  • Sterilization, Tubal* / adverse effects
  • Sterilization, Tubal* / methods
  • Sterilization, Tubal* / psychology
  • Treatment Failure