23 April 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
In One Year, Five Women Have Died After Sterilisation
A fortnight ago, 39–year–old Leela (name changed) checked into a clinic for what she thought was a simple, risk–free tubectomy–the female sterilisation operation. Later that day, she succumbed to complications that arose after the procedure. One of her vital organs was injured during the procedure. From 2009 to date, five women have lost their lives after having undergone tubectomy.
Though the figure may seem minuscule, given that around 25,000 women are living their lives normally after undergoing the procedure, the five deaths have raised concerns among city family planners. The procedure had always been touted as relatively safe. Civic body sources said that three women died the same day after the operation; the other two within a week. The women were in the 30– to 40–year age group, and injury to important organs in the body emerged as one of the prominent reasons for their deaths.
“For tubectomy, the patient has to go in for certain preoperative tests and check herself into the hospital a day prior to the surgery. The surgery calls for general anaesthesia and post–op,” said Vishwanath Koliwad, secretary general, Family Planning Association of India (FPAI). “It is always desirable to have more men coming in for vasectomy. Unlike tubectomy, vasectomy–the male sterilisation procedure–is a day–care procedure and men can resume their normal activities almost immediately.”
While civic body officials insist that women should not be deterred by these five cases, they are now promoting vasectomy more aggressively. “Death after a simple surgery like tubectomy is undesirable and unfortunate. But, there should not be concerns that tubectomy is an unsafe procedure,” said Dr Asha Advani, special officer, family welfare, BMC. Advani stresses on the importance of couples going to accredited centres. Mumbai has 93 accredited private and public sterilisation centres. State authorities concurred. “Complications or deaths due to tubectomy are rare. And, its benefits outweigh the risks involved,” said Dr S J Kulkarni, assistant director, State Family Planning Bureau.
Tubectomy and vasectomy remain the most sought after method of sterilisation among couples across the country with at least 5 lakh men and women opting for it in Maharashtra every year.
- It is a permanent form of birth control where the woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked in order to prevent fertilisation. With this surgery, fertilised eggs are prevented from reaching the uterus and embedding themselves there
- It also prevents the sperm from reaching the egg in the fallopian tube.
- Surgery is done under anaesthesia and lasts for 30–45 minutes.
- Risk Factor: Though largely considered safe, there have been five deaths in 2009–2010 due to surgical complications
- It is a minimally invasive procedure for birth control
- Two tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urinary tract are surgically altered. Post surgery sperm cannot pass through to fertilise the egg
- The surgery lasts for 30 minutes and the patient can be discharged in an hour
- Risk Factor: The procedure is considered risk–free