Objective: To describe rates of postpartum sterilization and indications for unfulfilled requests when Medicaid policy is not a limiting factor.
Study design: We conducted a single-institution, retrospective review. Women who requested postpartum tubal ligation after vaginal delivery from August 2015 to March 2019 were studied. Select demographic characteristics were compared between those who did and did not undergo the procedure. Reasons for why the procedure was cancelled, alternate contraceptive plans, and subsequent pregnancies were collected. Statistical analysis included the t test and chi-squared test, with p < 0.05 considered significant.
Results: A total of 4103 patients requested postpartum tubal ligation following vaginal delivery. About 3670 (89.4%) procedures were performed and 433 (10.6%) were canceled. Of the 433, 423 (98%) were not performed at patient request; 10 (2 %) were cancelled based on physician recommendation. Of these, 3 were due to significant maternal anemia in the setting of refusal of blood products, 1 due to anesthesia concerns, 1 for increased body mass index, and 1 due to delivery events. Alternative contraception methods were offered; 72 (28% of patients not receiving a tubal ligation) received Depo Provera prior to discharge. One-fourth (n = 110, 25.4%) did not keep the postpartum follow-up appointment. 83 (19.2%) of the 433 patients had at least one subsequent pregnancy. Although over half expressed interest at the time of discharge in long-acting reversible contraceptives, only 20% obtained this method at the postpartum visit.
Conclusions: Postpartum sterilization was predominantly achieved, among women whose requests were unfulfilled, the majority (98%) were at patient request with a minority by physician recommendation.
Implications: When the availability of postpartum tubal ligation is independent of Medicaid reimbursement and the hospital system and providers are organized to support timely access to permanent postpartum contraception, the majority of tubal ligations requests can be fulfilled following vaginal delivery.
Keywords: Barriers to care; Contraception; Permanent contraception; Postpartum sterilization.
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