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New Survey Explores Women's Contraception Decisions When They are Done Having Children

Partners Who Offer to Get Vasectomy Can Delay for Years; Women Say They're More Likely to "Win the Lottery" First

Questions to Ask

Download and print these 10 questions to ask your health care professional about permanent birth control.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – In preparation for World Contraception Day, HealthyWomen, the nation's leading independent health information source for women, released a nationwide survey of women that explores an issue faced by most couples at some point in their relationship: How do they know when they are done having children and what contraception will they use to avoid an unplanned pregnancy? The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive of 1,006 women showed that a majority of women who say they are done having children have talked to their partner about the decision, but the conversation may often end there. Only 24 percent say they have discussed their decision with their OB/GYN, and even fewer (13 percent) report talking with friends about the topic.

"This landmark survey is the first to provide insight on the topic of women being 'done' having children and the conversations related to this important life milestone. While it is encouraging that this is a joint decision between women and their partners, unfortunately only one-quarter are consulting their OB/GYNs about next steps," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, Executive Director of HealthyWomen. "World Contraception Day on September 26 is the perfect time to help women realize that it's crucial to talk about being 'done' with their healthcare providers. OB/GYNs can educate patients about various birth control options and help them take the most effective action."

Women Simply Don’t Know All Permanent Birth Control Options

Although more than three out of four women surveyed say they are done having children, they remain overwhelmingly unaware of all their permanent birth control options. Nearly 90 percent of women surveyed knew about the surgical procedures, vasectomy and tubal ligation (i.e., "getting your tubes tied"); however, only 12 percent knew there are other less-invasive solutions that don't require surgery.

Women say effectiveness in preventing pregnancy is one of the most important factors when considering permanent birth control. Yet some women who are done are still relying on temporary methods like condoms (15 percent) which have a 15 percent failure rate*. Women also prefer not to use hormones, but 15 percent are using the pill and 5 percent are using IUDs, many of which contain hormones, to prevent pregnancy.

"When it comes to birth control, there is a real breakdown in communication between doctors and their patients," said Cindy Basinski, MD, FACOG. "If the patient doesn’t bring up the subject of birth control, the doctor assumes they are satisfied with their current method. The flipside is that women aren’t bringing it up either because they think that their doctors would tell them if there was a better birth control option for them. The conversation just isn't happening."

According to Dr. Basinski, many women think that tubal ligation is their only permanent option, so they stay on temporary methods like condoms or the pill, despite the inconvenience or side effects. "I find that many of my patients are surprised when they learn that permanent birth control goes beyond the surgical options, vasectomy and tubal ligation," said Dr. Basinski. "The most effective permanent birth control option is actually Essure, which is a surgery-free, hormone-free procedure for women.  It can be performed in a doctor's office with relatively no down time for recovery, which is important to busy moms."

Men Say They'll Undergo a Vasectomy, but Women Report that Waiting for Him to "Go Under the Knife" Takes Years

Nearly three-quarters of women mistakenly think vasectomies are easier for men than permanent procedures for women, since they are not aware of non-surgical, minimally invasive options. Due to this lack of knowledge, a vasectomy is often one of the first options couples seek once they've decided they are done having children. In fact, the survey found that more than one-third of women surveyed say their husbands offered to have a vasectomy. However, many women find themselves waiting – some for more than five years – for their husband to have the surgery.Women who are done report that they are more likely to "win the lottery" than for the vasectomy to actually happen.

"When we decided that we were done having children, my husband was open to getting a vasectomy because we thought our only other permanent birth control alternative was getting my tubes tied," explained 42-year-old Shannon Backer, a mother of three from Newburgh, Ind. "When we learned that the Essure procedure took about 10 minutes and didn't require surgery, we knew we found the option that would work for us. I was back in my routine the next day, which wouldn't have been possible with a tubal ligation. I think more women need to know about Essure, so I am sharing my story to help start the conversation."

Other Key Findings Show Age and Financial Issues Drive Decision

How Women Know They're "Done"

  • Age (59 percent) is the most commonly cited factor that goes into the decision about whether a family is complete.
  • Financial situation (46 percent) and reaching the number or gender of desired children (39 percent) were additional influencing factors reported, as well as health (34 percent).

How Women Feel About Being "Done"

  • "Satisfaction" (55 percent) was the number one emotion felt by women surveyed once they made the decision that they were done having children.
  • Women also felt "sadness" (24 percent), "happiness" (23 percent) and "relief" (21 percent) about their decision.

Besides Never Having to Worry About an Unplanned Pregnancy, Women Find Many Benefits of Permanent Birth Control

  • Greater sense of freedom about when and where they can have sex (58 percent)
  • No longer have to take hormones (54 percent)
  • Less hassle (51 percent)

About the Survey and Methodology

HealthyWomen commissioned the research firm Harris Interactive to conduct an online custom research survey administered to mothers in the United States. The online survey was conducted among 1,006 women age 28-48 who have at least one child and are married or in a committed relationship. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. Because the sample is based on those who have agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Online interviews took place between August 30 and September 6, 2011. Results were weighted for race/ethnicity, education, household income, region and employment status. For additional information on the survey, visit

This survey was supported by an educational grant from Conceptus, Inc., makers of Essure.

About HealthyWomen

HealthyWomen (HW) is the nation's leading independent health information source for women. For more than 20 years, women have been coming to HW for answers to their most pressing and personal health care questions. HW provides health information through its wide array of online content and print publications that is original, objective, reviewed and approved by medical experts and reflects the latest advances in evidence-based health research. Its award-winning website,®, has been recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the "Top 100 Websites for Women" for two consecutive years and was named the top women's health website by Dr. Mehmet Oz in O, The Oprah Magazine. For more information, visit

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

About the Essure(R) Procedure

The Essure procedure, FDA approved since 2002, is the first permanent birth control method that can be performed in the comfort of a physician's office in less than 10 minutes (average hysteroscopic time) without hormones, cutting, burning or the risks associated with general anesthesia or tubal ligation. Soft, flexible inserts are placed in a woman's fallopian tubes through the cervix without incisions. Over the next three months, the body forms a natural barrier around and through the micro-inserts to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Three months after the Essure procedure, a doctor is able to perform an Essure Confirmation Test to confirm that the inserts are properly placed and that the fallopian tubes are fully blocked, allowing the patient to rely upon Essure for permanent birth control.

The Essure procedure is 99.95% effective based on one year of follow-up with zero pregnancies reported in clinical trials, making it the most effective form of permanent birth control on the market. The procedure is covered by most insurance plans, and when it is performed in a doctor's office the cost to the patient may be as low as a simple co-pay. Essure has been proven and trusted by physicians since 2002, with approximately 550,000 women worldwide having undergone the Essure procedure.

About Conceptus, Inc.

Conceptus, Inc. is a leader in the design, development, and marketing of innovative solutions in women's healthcare. The company manufactures and markets the Essure procedure. The Essure procedure is available in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Middle East. The company also promotes the GYNECARE THERMACHOICE(R) Uterine Balloon Therapy System by ETHICON(TM) Women's Health & Urology, a division of Ethicon, Inc., in U.S. OB/GYN physician offices.

Please visit for more information on the Essure procedure. Patients may call the Essure Information Center at 1-877-ESSURE-1 with questions or to find a physician in their area.

*Efficacy data based on one year of typical use adapted from Contraceptive Efficacy, by James Trussell PhD, in Contraceptive Technology: Nineteenth Revised Edition, New York NY: Ardent Media, 2007.

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