Tying Tubes Increases Ectopic, Hysterectomy Risks

Women who undergo tubal sterilization have an increased risk of hysterectomy or ectopic pregnancy -- a potentially life-threatening situation in which a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the uterus, researchers announced at a meeting in Bethesda, sponsored by the National Institute of Health.

Overall, 143 pregnancies occurred in the 10,000 sterilized women monitored in the study, 47 of them ectopic pregnancies. The 10-year cumulative failure rate of the surgical procedure is 1.8%, Peterson noted, and the ectopic rate is about 0.75%. This is a fairly high risk. Women sterilized at young ages had the highest risk of sterilization failure.

COMMENT: Contraceptive planning is a very challenging area. There are no easy answers and most medical attempts to implement it are fraught with complications. This report summarizes the major danger associated with tubal ligation. Vasectomies have their own problems. However, they both are likely to have less side effects than a woman taking birth control pills long term (see next article). I don't recommend any of those options. Natural family planning combined with some type of barrier method seems to provide contraceptive protection very close to oral contraceptives and have far less health damaging potential.

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