There are several alternatives for preventing unwanted pregnancies. Although none are as effective as sterilization, they all protect against pregnancy.
• Periodic abstinence, or natural family planning
• Barrier methods like condoms and diaphragms
• Hormonal methods such as oral contraceptive pills
• The Depo-Provera injection or Norplant implants
• And even intrauterine devices or IUDs.
The success of each method varies. Barrier methods are 80-90% effective and hormonal contraceptives and IUD's are 99% effective if used correctly.
Your male partner can also choose to undergo a vasectomy, which is a sterilization procedure performed on men. A vasectomy will make it impossible for sperm to leave the male reproductive system. A vasectomy is a safe and permanent surgical procedure. Pregnancy rates after vasectomy are less than 1 in 100.
Remember that sterilization does not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. If you are at risk for an STD, you still need to protect yourself with a condom.
If there is any chance that you might want more children in the future, or if you have questions about any of these alternatives, you should discuss them with your doctor and decide which choice, if any, is appropriate for you.