Sterilisation the most common form of permanent contraception


  • Ask Dr G
  • Sunday, 21 Jun 2015

Today is Father's Day. This is a day to honour fathers and celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds and influences fathers have in society.

Although such celebrations may be considered commercialised, being a father myself, today is a day to reflect on the inspiration and impact my dad had on my life.

Despite starting his life as a bicycle merchant, Dad was a magnanimous man who was generous and selfless - ensuring that me and my three siblings had the best education in life.

He may not have had enough money to ensure a comfortable life for us, but he certainly had unlimited love to give us. Sadly, his life was shortened by liver cancer.

I am often moved by many tributes people make on Father's Day about the influences their dad had on them.

Wade Boggs, a legendary baseball player for both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees once said to his father; "Anyone can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and that's why I call you Dad, because you are so special to me. You taught me the game and taught me how to play it right."

Indeed, Dad instilled values in me and taught me how to be a father myself.

Like many of us, dot-com entrepreneur Naveen Jain said fatherhood had changed his life to make him a better person.

"Being a father has been without a doubt, my greatest achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person," he said.

Indeed, parenthood had made me a better person. I am a proud father who is constantly aspiring to be a better by giving my time, resources and energy to nurture my children.

Although it has not been easy being a father of two teenagers in today's society, I often think to myself; "Do I have enough time or resources to raise more children?" This is exactly the topic we are tackling for David on this Father's Day.

Dear Dr. G,

Thank you so much for answering my email. I really appreciate it.

I am a father of two children aged eight and ten. Although parenthood has been amazing and changed my life, my wife and I both have decided that we do not have the means to have more children.

I think times have changed, compared to our parent's time when having more children was fashionable. It has become impossible in modern society to raise more children when we don't have enough time and money to raise more kids properly. Everyone is simply too busy and the money is insufficient.

My wife and I are considering sterilisation as a form of contraception, and would like to get your advice.

Is it better for my wife to have tubal ligation or for me to get a vasectomy?

How effective are these? What are the risks? Will it change our sex life in the future?

As we are both in our early thirties now, can we reverse the sterilisation later when we are financially more stable?

Please help.

Yours truly,

David

Sterilisation is a permanent form of birth control that is extremely effective at preventing pregnancy. Both men and women can be sterilised.

For women, a tubal ligation is performed, and for men, a vasectomy.

Tubal ligation is the surgery that is done to tie the fallopian tube of a woman, preventing the transportation of egg to the uterus.

Such birth control is normally done as keyhole surgery under general anaesthesia, and is the most common from of contraception in the United States. Tubal ligation is nearly 100% effective, but reversal is extremely difficult.

A vasectomy, on the other hand, is the male version of tubal ligation.

It is generally considered simpler, safer and less painful compared to tubal ligation, where a vasectomy is usually done in the clinic under local anaesthesia.

The intervention involves making a small incision on the scrotum to allow cutting and blocking of the vas deferens, which transports sperms out of the testes.

This minor surgery is also nearly 100% effective and does not affect the man's ability to achieve erection, orgasm or ejaculate. There will still be ejaculatory fluid with no sperm in it.

Although complications such as swelling, bruising and infection may occur after vasectomy, they are relatively uncommon and almost never serious.

Although the reversal of vasectomy is commonly performed, the procedure can be complicated, expensive and not always successful.

Some men also consider storing semen in the sperm bank to preserve the possibility of pregnancy in the future.

I recently came across the works of Michael Gurian, American author of twenty-eight bestsellers and social philosopher.

He said; "Father's Day is hopefully a time when culture says is the moment to look at who our men and boys are".

French Poet and Novelist Victor Hugo once said; "Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars".

In the 21st century society, do we simply run out of room for more paternal affection to share?

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