Sterilization – Permanent Methods of Birth Control

What is sterilization?

Sterilization procedures are a permanent and highly effective form birth control. This includes vasectomy for men/people with penises and a variety of tubal sterilization procedures (often referred to as tubal ligation or “having your tubes tied”) for women/people with uteruses. Sterilization is covered under MSP, except at some private vasectomy clinics.

What should I consider before getting sterilized?

Sterilization procedures are permanent, and so you should only have one if you are absolutely sure that you do not want future pregnancies. These procedures can sometimes be reversed, more often with vasectomy than tubal sterilization. However, reversal procedures are expensive, can carry health risks, and are not always successful.

Because they are permanent and a significant number of people regret being sterilized later in their lives, many health care providers are reluctant to refer for or perform these procedures if someone is younger in age or does not have children. If you are unsure about whether you want future pregnancies or if you have been turned down for sterilization, an IUD is a good alternative. IUDs are as effective as sterilization procedures. They are also very safe, usually easier and quicker to access than sterilization, and easily reversible.  If you would like to learn more about IUDs, please see our website at

It is important to use another form of effective birth control up until the procedure (particularly with tubal sterilization as they will have to be reasonably sure you are not pregnant when it is done) and afterwards (particularly with vasectomy, which does not take effect right away – a second appointment is required three months later to confirm that it has worked).

Please note: If you are in a long term relationship and deciding which of you should be sterilized, vasectomy is usually recommended if possible. It is safer, more effective, easier to get and less invasive than tubal sterilization. Recovery is also faster.


What is it?

Vasectomy is a minor procedure that takes less than 10 minutes. It can happen in a clinic or hospital. It results in no longer being able to get someone pregnant. Tubal sterilization refers to a few different kinds of surgeries that happen in a hospital, under general anesthetic (being put to sleep). It results in someone no longer being able to get pregnant.

How does it work?

The vas deferens (the tube that carries sperm) is closed, preventing sperm from getting into ejaculate (semen). This is usually done under local anesthetic. The success of the procedure must be confirmed three months later. There are a number of different techniques used so that eggs can’t travel from the ovary via the fallopian tube to cause a pregnancy. The fallopian tubes may be blocked, tied, or removed.
How effective is it? Vasectomy is 99.8% effective. Tubal ligation is about 99.5% effective.
How much time does it take to recover? Recovery tends to be quite fast, but it is recommended not to do any heavy lifting or exercise for one week after. Recovery time depends on which procedure you get, but tends to be longer than with vasectomy.
How do I get an appointment? You can get a family doctor or a walk-in clinic to provide a referral to a specialist (a urologist). You can also self-refer if you have a local vasectomy clinic. In the Lower Mainland, MetroVan Urology Group is a good place to go: 604-273-4320 You need to go to a family doctor or a walk-in clinic for a referral to a gynecologist, who will schedule you at the hospital. Tubal sterilization is covered by BC medical insurance.
How fast can I get an appointment? You can usually get in within a week or two. It can be longer if the procedure is done in a hospital. It varies depending on the hospital, but can sometimes be a year or longer.
How will it affect me? Vasectomy does not affect sex – it has no effect on erections, orgasms/ejaculation, or hormones. There is no way for someone to know you’ve had a vasectomy. Unless there is a rare complication, it will not impact your overall health. Rates of complication are low at around 1 to 2 percent. Most studies show that tubal sterilization procedures have no effect on periods. It does not put someone into early menopause or affect your ability to enjoy sex. Unless there is a rare complication, it will not impact your overall health. Complication rates are very low and vary depending on the kind of procedure.
Am I protected right away after? No. It is very important to go for a follow up appointment around three months after the vasectomy to make sure it was successful. Yes. Follow the instructions given by your doctor, including any follow up appointments they recommend.


Questions? For more information about birth control you can make an appointment by calling us at 604-322-6692, you can email us or you contact Sex Sense through email or at 1-800-739-7367.

Updated April 2019