New Female Sterilization Method has Greater Pregnancy Risk

By Hic et nunc (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

According to a study performed by Yale University and UC Davis, among women who decided to have hysteroscopic sterilization, it was found they were ten times more likely to become pregnant within a decade than a female who had laparoscopic sterilization. The lead study author Aileen Gariepy noted the study provides critical information for women and their physicians who are discussing permanent birth control (sterilization) methods.

Female Sterilization

Female sterilization is the most popular way of preventing pregnancy worldwide and it’s the most frequently used method of contraception in women older than 35 years of age in America. Every year, approximately 345,000 women in America undergo surgical sterilization and a total of 10.3 million U.S. women depend on female sterilization in order to prevent pregnancy.

Hysteroscopic non-surgical sterilization is a process that is done in several steps and it requires a female to have coils placed inside the opening of the fallopian tubes. During this time, she must use a backup birth control method for about three months after the procedure. Within this time period, she will have a special x-ray test done in which dye will be flushed through the uterus to check that the fallopian tubes are blocked.


Essure was first approved for use by the FDA in 2002. At the time, data was presented to physicians and patients and it only included women who successfully went through all the steps necessary to the sterilization procedure. However, doctors quickly realized that at least 1 in 10 women would not be able to have the coils inserted and that many of them wouldn’t return for follow-up testing. The study used data in published literature to model what happens to women who go down the path of hysteroscopic sterilization or laparoscopic sterilization, including those who do not successfully complete the procedure.

The authors of the study found that the risk of pregnancy after hysteroscopic sterilization is primarily accrued in the first year after the procedure is done, because it is not effective immediately. Whereas on the other hand, laparoscopic sterilization is immediately effective.

The major findings in the study found that the total pregnancy rate over 10 years reached 57 per 1,000 for hysteroscopic sterilization, as compared to only 24-30 per 1,000 per laparoscopic sterilization.

Hysteroscopic Sterilization Rates

Since it was first introduced back in 2002, hysteroscopic sterilization has been done on more than 650,000 women around the world. This procedure can be done in a doctor’s office and doesn’t require any incisions or general anesthesia. Many doctors and patients agree these two factors make the procedure appear easier than traditional laparoscopic sterilization.

However, for women who are sure they don’t want to become pregnant, the current method is still not ready for use by everyone. There have been no conclusive studies done that compare hysteroscopic sterilization success rates against those of laparoscopic sterilization.

Women pick surgical sterilization to specifically avoid any pregnancies in the future. If one method of sterilization has a higher risk of pregnancy, a woman and her doctor should know so they can discuss whether it is right for her and in order to discuss the risks and benefits.


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