Sterilisation is a permanent form of contraception that requires surgery to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. For women, this means having the fallopian tubes sealed or tied. Men have a vasectomy, which means the vas deferens (tube carrying sperm from the testicles to the penis) is sealed or cut so that sperm cannot travel.
When women ovulate an egg is released, which travels down one of the two fallopian tubes and into the womb where it may meet sperm and become fertilised. By surgically blocking or tying the tubes, the egg will be absorbed harmlessly into the body.
For men, the tube carrying sperm from the testicles to the penis is cut or sealed. Men still ejaculate but the semen carries no sperm and so can't fertilise an egg.
Extremely convenient as you never have to worry about contraception again. It's 99% effective and doesn't affect hormone levels in men or women.
Drastic and very difficult to reverse (although easier for men than women) so you have to be sure it's right for you. It requires surgery, although this is relatively minor and you should be out of hospital the same day. It doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) so to have safe sex, you will still need to use condoms.
In normal circumstances, it may only be offered to men or women who are over 30 and have had children.
Last updated August 1, 2018