Tubectomy, also known as female sterilisation or tubal ligation is one of the most complicated contraceptive methods available to humankind. It’s a surgical procedure done on women, where their fallopian tubes are blocked, clamped, sealed or severed, in order to prevent sperm from reaching the egg to fertilise it. If you get a tubectomy, you’ll have to be hospitalised for one to three days, and the recovery period after this surgery can last up to one or two weeks.
Sounds more complicated than using condoms, intrauterine devices (IUDs), contraceptive pills, and male sterilisation? It is. And yet, a recent survey shows that Indians opt for this complex female sterilisation method over other simpler ones.
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4, female sterilisation accounts for 35.7 per cent of all family planning methods in India. Male sterilisation accounts for only 0.3 per cent in comparison. The survey revealed that Chhattisgarh accounts for the largest proportion of female sterilisations at a whopping 46.2 per cent—more than 10 per cent higher than the national average. In this state alone, male sterilisation was at a meagre 0.7 per cent, IUD use at 1.6 per cent, contraceptive pills at 1.7 per cent, and condoms at 3.9 per cent.
The data provided by the survey reveals a huge variation in these numbers, state-wise, but a pattern observed is that states with better health facilities tend to do more tubectomies. This is also because you need a number of medical facilities to conduct this surgery, including an anesthesiologist for general anaesthesia. For example, in Kerala, 45.8 per cent of all family planning procedures were female sterilisation. This proportion was high in some other states like Tamil Nadu (49.4 per cent) and Punjab (37.5 per cent). In Uttar Pradesh, however, it stood at 17.3 per cent.
Compared to data collected from previous years, this proportion of female sterilisations, nationally, has actually decreased: it was at 95.09 per cent in 2013, and 96.7 per cent in 2014, according to the Supreme Court. So, while the numbers have decreased, women are still disproportionately targeted for sterilisation across the nation. With family planning laws under review in India recently, we’ll soon see if new recommendations affect any positive changes or not.