Family Planning — What are your options?

While a baby is always supposed to be a blessing, very few things can disrupt your future planning than an unintended pregnancy. You know those adorable Johnson & Johnson commercials with the chubby, happy baby and the tagline, “A baby changes everything?” Well, no truer words were ever spoken, and sometimes the change is more than a warm, fuzzy feeling. Babies are loud, exhausting, messy and really expensive. I’ve been there, done that a few too many times, and by the immediate flood of sympathy I feel for pregnant women, it is clear I am done — overdone.

Late in life, unplanned pregnancies happen all the time. It is dangerous to assume because you feel¬†too old to have a baby, your biological clock is on the same page. I had my tubes tied, I’m on the pill and I’m seriously considering abstinence until menopause. What are the permanent contraception options when you are certain you don’t want any surprises?


Vasectomy – This is a wonderful choice considering women bear the brunt of the reproductive burden. A couple hours with some frozen peas on his lap is the least a man can do.

– Takes 20 – 30 minutes.

– A small area of the scrotum is numbed with local anesthetic on each side. The vas deferens which carries sperm from the testicles is snipped. The small incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures.

– The area should be iced for the rest of the day. The patient can resume work in 1-2 days and should avoid heavy lifting for about a week. Mild soreness is expected.

– This does not affect sex drive, ejaculatory strength or sensation. Men who have had the procedure need to use another form of birth control for about two months or until their sperm count is tested and is zero.

– New advances are making the procedure even simpler. Talk with your urologist about the options.

Tubal Ligation – A tubal ligation is a surgical procedure where the fallopian tubes are cut in order to stop eggs from traveling through the tubes to the uterus where they can meet up with some determined sperm looking for a good time.

– The surgery requires either general anesthesia or an epidural.

– There are several different techniques, but usually incisions are made in the abdomen, the tubes are located and snipped and cauterized to prevent reattachment during the healing process.

– Patients can usually go home same day and can resume most activities in about a week.

– Rarely, despite good surgical technique, conception can happen after a tubal ligation. It is important for women who are experiencing signs of pregnancy to see their doctor, because of the risk of a tubal pregnancy, which can be life threatening.

The only 100% method of birth control, other than abstinence, is a hysterectomy. In the absence of medical indication for this more invasive, life altering surgery, I would stock up on frozen peas, DVR some good football games and make an appointment with a urologist.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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