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To describe the childfree population seeking surgical sterilization, identify barriers to receiving care, and characterize the incidence of regret.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of people in the US, aged 18 or older, who do not have biological children, and who are seeking or have previously sought a sterilization procedure. Participants completed an online REDCap survey distributed over social media platforms, including Reddit, TikTok, and Facebook.
390 respondents completed the survey, of whom 149 (38%) were sterilized, 38 (10%) were approved for a procedure, 32 (8%) had been unable to find a doctor to do the procedure, 81 (21%) were seeking a doctor, and 90 (23%) had not yet sought a doctor. Respondents were predominantly White (87%), identified as women (82%), and were diverse in sexual orientation (heterosexual, 41%; bisexual, 41%; other, 18%). Reasons for seeking sterilization included not wanting children (96%), fear of pregnancy/childbirth (70%), the current state of the world (68%), environmental reasons (58%), and medical reasons (34%). Barriers to care included cost of the procedure (31%), and inability to find a doctor who would perform the procedure (29%). Of the 149 respondents who had been surgically sterilized, 68 (46%) asked more than one doctor for the procedure. Of those sterilized, 99.3% answered “yes” to “Do you think sterilization as a permanent method of birth control was a good choice for you?”
Childfree individuals have a variety of reasons for seeking sterilization and may be at a lower risk of regret than parous people who are sterilized.
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