GMA: New Female Sterilization Methods

ByABC News via logo
April 30, 2001, 9:00 PM

N E W   Y O R K,  May 1 -- Scientists are researching a variety of female sterilization techniques that will make the process as quick and easy for women as it is for men.

The standard method has long been a surgical process called tubal ligation often referred to as getting one's (fallopian) tubes tied.

The procedure is performed at a hospital or surgical center and requires an incision and general anesthesia. But researchers are now experimenting with some non-surgical alternatives.

"The real move is to get away from surgery," says Good Morning America's Dr. Nancy Snyderman. "Because any time you can avoid opening up someone's abdomen, even with a small scope, you're better off,"

At an American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology meeting it was reported that some researchers are even using radio frequency waves to externally "zap" the fallopian tube, so that even if the ovary releases an egg, it cannot travel into the uterus, where it could be implanted and cause pregnancy.

"So now we're really concentrating on stopping the traffic, if you will, in the fallopian tube," Snyderman says. The experimental trials on this are still very small, she notes.

A Coil of Protection

Another option that could be on the market in a few years is a procedure called STOP (or Selective Tubal Occlusion Procedure), from a company called Conceptus Inc., based in San Carlos, Calif.

The procedure involves the insertion of a small coil, and does not require cutting or penetrating the abdomen. It can be performed in an office setting with or without local anesthesia, in about 20 minutes a bit longer than the time it takes for male sterilization.

"The small coil is inserted through the cervix and into the fallopian tube," Snyderman says. "Because there's a coil, tissue will then grow into that area. And it's really tissue [produced] within the fallopian tube that blocks the channel, and can lead to sterilization."

The coil becomes permanently embedded in the body and takes about three months to take effect.