Vasectomy or Tubal Ligation--which is preferable?

In a recent vasectomy thread, I asked about the relative pros & cons between a vasectomy and a tubal ligation, eliciting two responses:


Now my wife and I have decided to not have kids, but when I bring up the V-word, she says she doesn’t like the idea of me going through with it (“If I die and you get remarried and want a family blah blah blah”). She said she’s perfectly willing to get her tubes tied instead.

So, experienced Dopers, is a vasectomy really preferable? Why or why not? (Unpleasantly graphic details most welcome). We both have doctor appointments scheduled to bring this up and I’m slowly doing the clinical research on the procedures, but I know any personal/anecdotal input would be most helpful.


I’m female and have had my tubes tied, and I have heard first-hand stories from men who’ve had vasectomies. Basically it is easier to do the vasectomy, though apparently it’s a bit uncomfortable to sit that day. For tubal ligation, the woman has general anaesthesia.

Frankly, I didn’t think the tubal ligation was that bad, it was just one day out of work. I did it because since I was the one who theoretically could become pregnant, and since I was the one who really didn’t want another baby, I would feel better knowing that I was baby-proof.

So it’s just your personal preference. If your wife wants to do it, then she should do it, it’s not any kind of big horrible deal. And once it’s done, you never need birth control again!!! YAY!!

From a practical standpoint, a doctor performing a vasectomy has to cut through a lot less meat than a tubal ligation.

Also, a vasectomy is generally an out-patient procedure done with a local anesthetic…I seriously doubt the same can be said of a tubal ligation.

When my wife and I decided to arrange for permanent birth control my doctor told me that a vasectomy was a much simpler and safer operation than tubal ligation, so that ‘s the approach that we took. A minor operation with local anesthetic, a couple of days’ worth of minor discomfort, and everything (with the exception of being able to get ourselves pregnant) was back to normal.

We were back to having sex and playing golf (not simultaneously, mind you) within a week.

While the general consensus seems to be that traditional tubal ligation is harder on women than vasectomies are on men, you might have heard there is a newly FDA-approved procedure called Essure that is supposed to make tubal ligation easier on women (no general anesthesia, no incisions). Since it should be widely available within a year, you might want to look into it.
Here’s a little bit about it:

My hubs had a vasectomy. By that evening each of his boys were the size of a large fist even though he was keeping an icepack on them. He walked a little funny too. By the next day he was much improved. No horror story here. :slight_smile:

I had my vasectomy on an outpatient basis, and when he was done I actually walked home. No noticeable swelling, some soreness by evening.

I got a varicocele, a basically harmless varicose vein above the testicle (in the epididymis, I think?) which is a common side effect.

Vasecetomies are also reversible in most cases. So in the event the man “wants to have children again” this is entirely possible.

Each situation is different.

I will be getting a tubal soon. My husband has offered to get a vasectomy, but I realised that even if he had a vasectomy, I would still want to be sterile, for many reasons.

Physically, abdominal surgery (standard tubal ligation) is much more invasive, prone to complications and has a longer recovery time than a vasectomy. Just keep in mind that there are many factors and the physical aspects may not be the most important ones for you. Everyone is different.

For more info on the method spathiphyllum mentioned, check out the Essure website. This is the procedure which I hope to get done within the next year, and is a huge improvement on the existing methods (though it is not the best option for everyone).

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think anybody can tell you which is the most preferable. I think you and your wife need to do a bit of research on different methods, weigh up the pros and cons and make a joint decision. It’s not just a less invasive + cheaper decision, IYKWIM.

A vasectomy is a simple out-patient procedure that takes very little time and comes with relatively little pain or complications.

A tubal ligation is a much more invasive and risk prone procedure.

I felt that it was preferable for me to take to low risk option as opposed to having Lola undergo major surgery.

A doctor here will have serious reservations about performing a vasectomy on someone if they are young and without children.

People can change their minds.

I got snipped. the procedure itself is no big deal EXCEPT those 2 shits they give you. Feels like a wasp stinging you right in the balls!:eek:

The recovery was realitively pain-free, with the help of pain pills and some booze.:smiley:

have the procedure done on a friday. You’ll be back to work on monday.

Oh,…and, uh,…though it doesn’t hurt, for about a week or so your nut sack is going to turn a horrible shade of BLACK AND BLUE!:EEK:

It’s no such a bad thing. Really.

Oh, God.ha ha ha!:p:p:p I have got to preview my posts more often!

That should say 2 shots, not 2 shits!:stuck_out_tongue:
Giving you 2 shits might not be as bad as those 2 shots though.:smiley:

I’m cringing while asking this, but are the two shots just into the scrotum, or does the needle go into the testicles?

The shots go into the vas deferense. The first one you don’t know what to expect, the second one makes you want to flinch and the doctor sticks himself and he tells you if you move when he gives you the third shot to find someone else to finish cause he’s done with you.

vasectomy has is a more reliable form of sterilisation than tubal ligation.

if a pregnancy does result in a women who has been sterilised, it is more likely to be ectopic, a life threatening condition requiring major surgery.

post-operative infection/peritonitis/haemorrhage are not uncommon after tubal ligation.

i’d say, if you have a c-section with your last baby, go for a ligation when they’re in there, otherwise, hubby gets the snip!

I had a really rough time with my vasectomy (REALLY bad!) - from a completely selfish POV, tubal ligation would have been better because it would all have happened to someone else.

The complications that I experienced with my vasectomy were far worse than complications that the majority of women could expect to suffer from tubal ligation, but I think I’m just at the edge of the bell curve.

Vasectomy is a less intrusive operation. It’s sometimes reversible (although this should never be a factor in deciding to have it done)

Thanks for the feedback–I appreciate it. Keep them coming!

On a related note, I found this site about tubal ligation that seemed as alarmist as it did informative. Can anyone who’s gone through a TL comment on the 101 reasons sited and how many are prone to, say, exaggeration?

Thanks again to all! :slight_smile:

I had my tubes tied and had A LOT of pain afterward (although not abdominal – my shoulders hurt!). Also, the hospital made a mistake during my pre-op, and all hell broke loose just before my operation. Vasectomy is much easier, much cheaper, shorter recovery, more easily reversible, but less “effective”. I hear of many more surprise babies when the dad gets sterilized. On the other hand, I think men have more emotional difficulty than women do. I dunno why, but they seem to have a lot of apprehension about it. In my limited experience.

The web site looks very alarmist to me. On the home page, the woman says she had her tubes tied during her C-section and complains that nobody warned her about depression. She hasn’t heard about post-partum depression? She’s trying to blame it on the tubal ligation? That seems pretty ridiculous.

Sure, any surgery can have complications, and statistically I guess it’s more true of ligations than of vasectomies, but frankly I don’t see what all the hubbub is about, it’s really not a big deal, and since you’ve already said your wife wants it done, she should just go ahead and do it, as long as her doctor doesn’t see any particular reason why she as an individual should not.

I think those anti-tubal sites are very misleading.
In many cases the “terrible periods” that these women experience after a tubal are due to going off birth control pills, not directly because of the tubal.

According to most sources i’ve seen, vasectomies are actually slightly more effective than tubals. I know there are sometimes genuine “surprise” babies after vasectomies. However, says the risk of the tubes spontaneously regrowing is just 0.03%. Frankly, I think that most surprise pg after a vasectomy are due to affairs rather than method failure (not that I’m saying that one should automatically assume that everyone who gets pg after a vasectomy was having an affair!).

The failure rate of a tubal depends on the method used (clips tend to have a relatively high failure rate, for example). The likelihood of having regrets seems to be higher with young women and those who have it done because of temporary circumstances (like being in a bad marriage, which leads a woman to regret it when she finds a new relationship).
This site talks about the failure rates with different methods and the statistics for regret:
Note that the majority (over 90%) of women don’t have regrets.