Research Article

Psychological sequelae to elective sterilisation: a prospective study.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 284 doi: (Published 13 February 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;284:461
  1. P Cooper,
  2. D Gath,
  3. N Rose,
  4. R Fieldsend


    A total of 201 women were interviewed four weeks before elective interval tubal sterilisation, of whom 190 (94.5%) were assessed again six months postoperatively and 193 (96.0%) 18 months postoperatively. Before sterilisation the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity as measured by the present state examination was 10.4% (21 patients), no greater than might be expected in a general population sample; six months after the operation the prevalence was significantly reduced to 4.7% (nine patients); and 18 months postoperatively it had returned almost to the preoperative value (9.3%; 18 patients). Postoperative psychosexual disturbance was rare, only 3% of patients reporting reduced enjoyment of sexual intercourse at either follow-up. Considerable regret was reported by only five patients (2.6%) six months after the operation and by eight (4.1%) 18 months after the operation; however, some dissatisfaction was reported by 15 patients (7.9%) at six months and 21 patients (10.9%) at 18 months. Postoperative psychiatric disturbance and dissatisfaction were largely associated with preoperative psychiatric disturbance. Thus there was no evidence that elective interval sterilisation increased the risk of psychiatric disturbance up to 18 months after the operation.