Sterilization has several meanings in medical terms. It can be a process where bacteria and other micro-organisms are destroyed either chemically, radiation or more usually by heat.
Sterilization when it is referred to as an operation, is a surgical procedure used to prevent either conception in a women or prevent the release of sperm in a male. In both instances both eggs and sperm can be produced but they are prevented from reaching their correct destination by a physical barrier.
Sterilization in women normally involves the occlusion of the fallopian tubes (the tubes down which the egg passes on its journey to the womb), either by clipping, cutting or blocking the tubes. The operation is usually done using microsurgical techniques under general anesthetic but can be performed during open surgery or as part of another surgical procedure. You may need to stay in hospital between 1 and 3 days depending on the type of operation.
Vasectomy in men can be performed under local anesthetic and is covered more fully in the section under the heading Vasectomy. Sterilization should be considered irreversible, yet there is sometimes a possibility that the procedure can be reversed if required. It is also expected to be over 99% reliable, but in rare cases it can fail 1 in 200 in women and 1 in 2000 in men, but it is certainly a good method of contraception for most people.
Counseling is important to make sure that you fully understand the permanency of these procedures.
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