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Risk of Pregnancy After Vasectomy About 1%, Study Says; Greatest Risk Within Three Months Following Procedure

Daily Reproductive Health Report
Contraception & Family Planning News Release
May 21, 2004

The risk of pregnancy after vasectomy is approximately 1%, a contraceptive failure rate that is "small but real," according to a study published in the May issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reuters Health reports (Reuters Health, 5/19). Dr. Denise Jamieson of CDC and colleagues studied 540 women ages 18 to 44 whose husbands underwent vasectomies in five U.S. cities and who were enrolled in the >U.S. Collaborative Review of Sterilization. The women were interviewed by telephone one year after their husbands' vasectomies and again at two, three and five years following the procedure (Jamieson et al., Obstetrics and Gynecology, May 2004). The researchers discovered that six of the 540 women whose husbands underwent vasectomies became pregnant six to 72 weeks after the procedure, according to Reuters Health. Three of the pregnancies occurred within the first three months following vasectomy, a time when most providers advise couples to use other contraception or avoid intercourse because of an increased risk of pregnancy, the researchers said, according to Reuters Health. However, two of the pregnancies occurred more than 12 months after the procedure. According to the study, the cumulative probability of contraceptive failure two, three and five years after vasectomy is 11.3 per 1,000 procedures. The five-year failure rate for the procedure is "similar to those previously reported following tubal sterilization and similar to vasectomy failure rates previously reported in two other studies," according to the researchers. The researchers concluded that "couples who are considering sterilization should be counseled that both male and female sterilization are highly effective methods of permanent contraception but that pregnancies can occur" (Reuters Health, 5/19).


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