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.