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Choosing a suitable form of birth control is a major decision for sexually active people who want to avoid pregnancy' Since there is no perfect contraceptive, people must choose from a selection of "second bests," according to their age, stage of life and sexual relationships. For those who already have a family, sterilization - tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men - is today's most effective and popular form of birth control. Sterilization blocks the tubes that carry eggs or sperm by cutting, tying or coagulating ("burning") them. It is a safe, convenient and reliable method that does not affect the reproductive hormones, male potency or sexual enjoyment. However, the procedure does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV infection (AIDS) - only proper use of latex condoms does that!
Sterilization should be considered permanent
Once a couple decides on sterilization the question arises as to which partner should have it. Since the operation is simpler and safer for men, and as women may already have borne the brunt of childbearing, it is often the male partners who decide to go for it. In North America almost one in five men over age 40 has been sterilized. In Ontario alone, more than 20,000 men choose vasectomy as their preferred method of birth control each year. Although it is sometimes possible to reverse vasectomy (rarely tubal ligation), reversal is major surgery with uncertain success rates. Therefore those considering vasectomy are urged to view it as irreversible The vasectomized man (and his partner) must be as sure as possible that he does not want to sire any more offspring.
Counselling beforehand is a good idea
Since rumours and misconceptions abound, anyone undertaking sterilization should find out about the procedure and what it offers. Urologists, gynecologists, family physicians, nurses, and family planning or birth control experts can explain what can and cannot be expected from it. Although for most it's a choice they never regret, the decision to be sterilized requires a thorough evaluation of the benefits, risks and the possible psychological or emotional costs. Counselling and expert advice beforehand can help diminish anxieties about vasectomy by allowing men to express and discuss their fears and find out precisely what the operation involves. Counsellors explain that although the operation itself is quick and simple, sterility is not immediate - it takes a few …