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University of Iowa News Release

April 3, 2003

Physician Provides Non-Surgical Sterilization For Women

A specialist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics recently became one of the first physicians in Iowa to provide an advanced non-surgical sterilization procedure for women.

Previously, women who desired permanent birth control had to receive tubal ligation surgery, which requires an abdominal incision and usually involves general anesthesia. The new, non-surgical alternative uses a soft micro-insert that is deployed through the cervix and placed in the fallopian tubes. Tissue then grows around the micro-inserts and occludes, or blocks, the fallopian tubes.

This minimally invasive technique does not require any incision and takes about 45 minutes. Patients who receive the procedure report they are able to return to work outside the home within one day. Patients who receive tubal ligations typically require four to six days of recovery before they can resume their normal activities.

Craig Syrop, M.D., a professor in the UI Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is the first physician in the state to receive training in the procedure and is now providing the treatment to patients.

"There is a need for new contraception technologies that provide an alternative to surgical approaches such as tubal ligation or vasectomy, and to hormone-based medications," Syrop said. "This advance is truly significant and should have an enormous impact on women who desire permanent birth control."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the new sterilization treatment. More than one million surgical tubal ligations and vasectomies are performed in the United States every year. Tubal ligation is currently the most prevalent form of permanent birth control among American women with approximately 700,000 procedures annually.

"As more women learn about this non-surgical option I expect that it will become very popular. This approach is less costly, it is less disruptive to their lives, and it is a highly effective form of permanent birth control," Syrop added.

Like all birth control methods, the new technique is not 100 percent effective, and pregnancy can still occur. There is a three-month waiting period after the procedure during which women must use another form of birth control. After that point, research shows the micro-inserts are 99.8 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. About one out of every 1,000 women who receive a tubal ligation will become pregnant.

Up to one-third of adults currently choose tubal ligation as their permanent birth control method. It is the most common form of birth control among married women and among women who have completed their childbearing.

In contrast, the birth control pill is used by only 22 percent of adults over 25 and condoms are used just 11 percent of the time. Among Americans over age 35, those numbers shrink to just 5 and 7 percent, respectively.

Five percent of men over age 25 and 16 percent of men over age 35 have received vasectomies. IUDs and diaphragms are chosen by just 2 percent of adults in the United States.

American women between ages 40 and 44 have the second highest rate of unintended pregnancies in the nation. Fifty-three percent of unplanned pregnancies occur among women using some form of birth control.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room 8798 JPP, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

CONTACT(S): Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,