Q: Dear Vivi,
My husband and I are happily married, and have two beautiful children. We don’t want to have another child, and we were wondering if there are any other methods of birth control besides hormonal treatments or tubal ligation.
— Permanent Protection Please
A: It’s a big decision to not have any more children or to consider sterilization. Hormonal treatments (the pill, patch, shot, IUD, etc.) and tubal ligation are the most common ways to prevent pregnancy when you decide not to have any more children. I personally wouldn’t recommend a tubal ligation because it is a major surgery where the fallopian tubes are blocked, tied, or severed and is irreversible. However, men can choose to have a vasectomy, or the newer, less permanent option, Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG).
Vasectomies are the male version of tubal ligation, where the vas deferens are severed and occluded, or sealed. Like tubal ligation, vasectomies are considered irreversible. RISUG is a ‘new’ method, and I use new lightly because it has been in trials in India for over 20 years, in which a polymer gel, called Vasalgel in the U.S., is injected into the vas deferens and partially blocks the tube. The sperm are destroyed as they pass the hardened polymer. The RISUG process is inexpensive and very quick – about 15 minutes, and can be undone by washing out the polymer with a sodium bicarbonate solution. Unfortunately, RISUG is not yet available in the states, but www.newmalecontraception.org/ is hopeful that it will reach clinical trials here in the next year. With any luck, Vasalgel will be available in 2015 as a vasectomy alternative.
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