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Birth Control Health Center

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Permanent Birth Control: His and Her Options

By Kara Mayer Robinson
WebMD Feature

Three years after they got married, Alexandra Paul and her husband, Ian, wanted better birth control. Paul was fed up with side effects of the pill, so she switched to a diaphragm. But when contraceptive jelly gave her infections, she avoided using it. That put a crimp in their lovemaking. "Not having birth control in every night limited our spontaneity," she says.

They knew they didn't want kids, so they decided to go for a permanent type of birth control -- sterilization. But for whom -- him or her? Ian appreciated how Alexandra had always taken care of birth control, and he felt like it was his turn. So he had a vasectomy.

Years later, the Los Angeles couple couldn't be happier. "We have never regretted our decision," Paul says. "Sex anywhere, anytime, without worry about pregnancy. And no more birth control chemicals."

If you're sure you don't want kids, or you have children but don't want more, permanent birth control may be for you. Your doctor can help you explore the options. Learn as much as you can about how it's done and what to expect so you can make your decision with confidence.

For Him: Vasectomy

This method blocks sperm from moving into your semen. Many couples choose it because it works. Vasectomies have a 99% success rate in preventing pregnancy.

It's also simple and safe. You can do it in a doctor's office and it only takes 15-30 minutes. The risks, like infection and bleeding, are low.

What to Expect

First, a doctor numbs your scrotum with a local anesthetic so you won't feel any pain. He makes a small opening in your skin, and then blocks or removes a tube called the vas deferens, which keeps sperm from getting into your semen. Without sperm, there's no way your partner will get pregnant. "Snip, tie, done," Paul says.

Recovery is quick. You may not need stitches, but if you do, they'll dissolve on their own. You may have discomfort or swelling for a few days. Icing the area can help. You'll probably be back at work and your usual routine in 2 days.

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