There comes a time when your family planning becomes a finished project. Here are the best long-term and permanent birth control options available for men and women.

Birth Control Options for Men

Besides abstinence, birth control for men comes down to condoms or vasectomy.

Condoms are safe, effective, and widely available. They are sometimes used in addition to other forms of birth control for extra protection. In addition to preventing pregnancy, they prevent against sexually transmitted diseases.  

Vasectomy is permanent birth control for men. During a minor surgical procedure, the tubes that carry sperm from the testes through the penis to the outside of the body are blocked or clipped. The testes still produce sperm and seminal fluid is still released during ejaculation, but that fluid won't contain sperm. That's how a vasectomy prevents pregnancy almost 100 percent of the time.

A vasectomy takes less than an hour to perform and most men can get back to work within a couple days. Rare complications include infection, inflammation, or pain lasting more than a few days. Even rarer, the procedure may not completely block sperm or the tubes may grow back together. Overall, a vasectomy is a safe, simple procedure with permanent results.

Birth Control Options for Women

Women have several long-term birth control choices, including hormonal contraceptives like the Pill, patch, ring, or injection. For something longer lasting or permanent, the best options are an IUD or sterilization by, Essure®, Adiana, or tubal ligation.

An IUD (intra-uterine device) is a small "T-shaped" device that's inserted into the uterus during a simple non-surgical office procedure. IUDs disrupt the uterine lining, affecting the way sperm moves and impedes their ability to reach an egg. Many IUDs also contain hormones that change the lining of the uterus and cervical mucous to prevent sperm from reaching an egg as well as prevent a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus. It's effective more than 99 percent of the time.

Some women experience increased cramping and bleeding for the first few menstrual cycles following IUD insertion, but after that, bleeding and cramping usually become lighter. IUDs can stay in place for up to 12 years before requiring replacement.

Tubal Ligation is permanent birth control by sterilization. It requires a minor abdominal surgery called laparoscopy. The surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdomen and inserts a special lighted microscope to locate the fallopian tubes (which carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). The fallopian tubes or clipped, blocked or tied so an egg can't reach the uterus and sperm can't reach the egg. The procedure prevents pregnancy in greater than 99.5 percent of cases.

Most women miss only a few days from work after tubal ligation. Rare complications include infection, bleeding, and pain lasting more than a few days and very rarely, the tubes grow back together or aren't completely blocked. Results are usually permanent though reversal procedures are occasionally successful.

Two other sterilization procedures, called Essure® and Adiana, involve placement of tiny inserts into the fallopian tubes. Over time, natural scar tissue forms around the inserts, which permanently blocks the tubes. The procedure is done in the office with local anesthesia. No incisions are required and there are generally fewer complications and less pain with these sterilization methods than with tubal ligation.

It takes several months before either a vasectomy, Essure® or Adiana are effective for birth control and back up contraception is necessary to prevent pregnancy. If you've decided there are no more pregnancies in your future, talk to your doctor about the best options for you.




Planned Pregnancy

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Sterilization for Men and Women