Blog Post

Female Sterilization on the Rise in U.S.

woman hospitalFemale sterilization has grown so much in popularity in recent years that it will soon overtake the pill as the most popular form of birth control among women.

The Daily Mail is reporting on a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which found that 62 percent of U.S. women between the ages of 15 and 44 are using some form of birth control.

Of those women, 16 percent were using the Pill between 2011 and 2013 and 15.5 percent in that age group chose female sterilization as a permanent form of birth control.

Female sterilization, also known as tube-tying, is a procedure where a woman's fallopian tubes are tied or closed so that sperm and egg cannot meet for fertilization. The procedure is done on an out-patient basis in a hospital or surgical center.

This method of birth control is particularly popular among middle-aged women who believe they've had all the children they want. They also fear the possibility of birth defects which occur more frequently in children conceived later in a woman's child-bearing years.

"Consider the fact that the majority of women in this country have had the number of children they want to have by [their] mid-20s to 30, or so," said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president of external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "And they still have the capacity to get pregnant until they are 50 years old."

Sterilization is touted as having a nearly 100 percent success rate in preventing pregnancy, but it's not without risks. The most life-threatening of these is the increased possibility of ectopic pregnancy, particularly in women under the age of 30 who have had a tubal ligation. According to this study of more than 10,000 women, the risk of ectopic pregnancy within 10 years of the procedure was seven per 1,000 procedures.

Other side effects include changes in blood supply to the ovaries, causing cramping, heavy bleeding, and PMS, and it lowers progesterone levels. These side effects occur in as many as 22 to 37 percent of sterilized women and are so prevalent that they are now called "post-tubal ligation syndrome" or PTLS.

Because Catholics believe that children do not come from outside of a couple as something "added on" to the mutual love of spouses, but from the very heart of their love for each other, it is therefore necessary that "each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life" (Catechism No. 2366). However, responsible parenting means couples may need to regulate their procreation for various reasons. But this must be done in a way that respects the bodies of the spouses and encourages tenderness between them. In this regard, "legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)" (No. 2399).

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