You are about to exit this MSD website.

MSD makes no warranties or representations of any kind as to the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any information contained in third party sites and shall have no liability for any loss or damage of any kind that may arise from your use of such content or information.

Inclusion of any third party link does not imply an endorsement or recommendation by MSD.

Some NHS services may not be available during this period due to limitations caused by COVID 19.

GB-NON-02457 | Date of Preparation: April 2020



Sterilisation is a permanent form of birth control.1 You should really only consider this option when you’re sure you don’t want any children, or any more children.1


Sterilisation key facts

Women can be sterilised by cutting, sealing or blocking the fallopian tubes. Men can also be sterilised, by cutting the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis. This is called a vasectomy.1 While sterilisation is intended to be permanent, you might be able to have the procedure reversed – but there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get pregnant.2,3


Sterilisation is permanent1


No need to take hormones1


You will need a minor operation or procedure1

  • Sterilisation is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy1
  • May be suitable for those who want a permanent method of contraception that involves no hormones1
  • Cannot be easily reversed (may not be reversible at all)1
  • It requires surgery1
  • Sterilisation is not effective immediately – there’s a recovery period afterwards where you’ll still need to use contraception1,3

The pros and cons listed are not exhaustive. Talk to your doctor or nurse for more information.

Common questions

Who is sterilisation not suitable for?

You should only be sterilised if you are certain you don’t want children, or any more children. It’s a pretty big decision to make – so take some time to think about it, and don’t make a decision if you’re feeling stressed or emotionally upset. There are other long-term methods of contraception that aren’t so permanent.1 Talk to a doctor or nurse about your options.

How is sterilisation carried out?

The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. A woman is sterilised by cutting, sealing or blocking these tubes through surgery (which can be done in a few ways). Male sterilisation is done by cutting and sealing the vas deferens.1 Depending on the method, you may be given a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic). It may take a few days to recover from the operation, and you may experience some pain.1

Your doctor or nurse can explain in more detail.

How long does it take for sterilisation to work?

With female sterilisation, you’ll need to use contraception until your next period or 3 months after the operation, depending on the type. With male sterilisation, you’ll need to use contraception for at least 8 to 12 weeks afterwards.2,3

So what do I do now?

Now you have a few options for types of contraception that might be right for you, you should have a chat with a GP/doctor or nurse.


Sexual health clinic

Find and visit a contraception clinic near you for information about your available choices.

Find out more


Pop into your local pharmacy and ask about your options.

Find a pharmacy

GP clinic

Make an appointment with your nurse or doctor so you can chat about what options are best for you.

Find a GP

You may want to download information on your options to help with your discussion.

Download now

PDF - 0.5MB