Effectiveness of Permanent Birth Control Methods

permanent contraception
Permanent Contraception. Edward Olive/Getty Images

Permanent methods of contraception, also known as "permanent infertility," are specific surgical procedures that are not meant to be reversed.


  • Over 99% effective assuming that a semen analysis has documented no sperm in the semen.
  • Of every 100 women whose partners have had a vasectomy, less than 1 will become pregnant.

Tubal Sterilization

  • Tubal ligation is more than 99% effective in the first year. This means that that out of every 100 women who have this procedure done, less than one will become pregnant during the first year of use.
  • Up to one out of every 100 women will become pregnant in each subsequent year following the first year (when the tubal was done). This is due to a slight possibility that fallopian tubes may reconnect by themselves.
  • Of every 1,000 women who have undergone tubal sterilization, approximately 18.5 will become pregnant within 10 years. These statistics were concluded by the U.S. Collaborative Review of Sterilization in their hallmark Crest study.
  • Depending on the method used and the age of the woman when she has the procedure done, this rate might be higher or lower.

If a pregnancy does occur after a tubal sterilization, there is a 33% chance of it being an ectopic pregnancy. However, the overall rate of pregnancy is so low, that a woman’s chance of having an ectopic pregnancy is much lower than it would be provided she did not have the tubal ligation done.

Essure Nonsurgical Permanent Birth Control

  • Essure is 99.83% effective at permanently preventing pregnancy.
  • Out of every 1,000 women who use Essure for 5 years, 1.7 will become pregnant.

Essure effectiveness is lowered if:

  • You do not use a backup method until fallopian tube blockage is confirmed. This is because it can take three months (and potentially up to 6 months) for the tissue to build up around the Essure inserts and completely block the fallopian tubes.
  • You have the NovaSure procedure (a procedure that removes the lining of the uterus to lighten or stop menstrual bleeding) after undergoing Essure.
  • You are using medications that suppress your immune system, such as chemotherapy or corticosteroids (like prednisone).

Three months after having the Essure implants inserted, you must schedule an additional doctor’s appointment. At this appointment, your doctor will perform a hysterosalpingogram (an x-ray using contrast dye) to determine if the inserts are correctly placed and if your tubes are completely blocked. Once your doctor confirms this, then you will no longer need to rely on backup birth control -- and Essure should be 99.83% effective. Keep in mind, though, that there is a chance that you could become pregnant is the confirmation hysterosalpingogram is misinterpreted/misread (this accounts for about 4% of unexpected pregnancies that occur while on Essure).


Peterson, H. B., Xia Z., Hughes J. M., Wilcox L. S., Tylor L. R., & Trussell, J. (1996). "The risk of pregnancy after tubal sterilization: Findings from the U.S. Collaborative Review of Sterilization." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1996, 174: 1161–1170. Accessed via private subscription.

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