Sterilization of women: benefits vs risks

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1978;16(6):488-92. doi: 10.1002/j.1879-3479.1979.tb00955.x.


Voluntary sterilization is the birth control method most widely practiced throughout the world. The last ten years have witnessed great improvements in techniques and perfection of innovations, explaining the important role that it now plays in the regulation of fertility. Different methods are examined and it is concluded that hysterectomy is the best, if medically indicated; conventional laparotomy is not justified unless required by concomitant intraabdominal pathology; minilaparotomy is mostly suitable postpartum; colpotomy is better left to specialists; laparoscopy is ideal for nonpregnant patients; culdoscopy is a relic of the past; and hysteroscopy, although still experimental, may be the way of the future. The advantages of voluntary sterilization lie in its remarkable and immediate efficiency, freedom from ongoing motivation, the convenience of a one-time operation, the absence of side effects and the reduction of total costs. Its disadvantages are the complexity of any surgical intervention for a woman, its indisputable finality, its uncertain legality and the risks inherent in any operation. Hysterectomy and tubal ligation are practically never fatal, so this argument does not influence the choice of either method. However, incidence of morbidity is higher following hysterectomies, which must therefore be justified. The balance is clearly in favor of voluntary sterilization for the woman who is convinced that the size of her family is complete.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Culdoscopy
  • Endoscopy
  • Family Planning Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Laparotomy / methods
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Mortality
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk
  • Sterilization, Reproductive* / adverse effects
  • Sterilization, Reproductive* / methods
  • Sterilization, Tubal / methods
  • Uterus
  • Vagina / surgery