Sterilization: Global Practice

As recently as fifty years ago, voluntary sterilization was not possible in Austria - it was not even permissible to provide information about the procedure. Today there are no such restrictions in our country, outside the requirement that a man or a woman must be at least 25 years of age.

The operation is a minor medical procedure for men, accomplished in 15 minutes under local anesthesia. The operation takes little time for women as well. However, it does include a laparoscopic component and must be carried out under general anesthesia. In both cases nothing is markedly changed, sexually speaking, and the fact of sterilization cannot be perceived or verified by a partner,.

The frequency of sterilization is extremely varied worldwide and dependent upon a number of factors:

• General legal framework
• Expenses and medical standards
• Access to alternative forms of contraception
• Psychological fears
• Religious and cultural factors
• "Fashion", habits and traditions

In Anglo-American countries, the proportion of male sterilizations (vasectomy) is traditionally high. In South American and Asian countries, it is more common for women to be sterilized (tubal ligation), although many men undergo sterilizaton as well. Free vasectomies are offered during the celebration of high holidays in Thailand, within the framework of "Vasectomy Festivals" - as in birthday celebrations of the King or Queen.