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Simon Minton

Senior Director

Trevor Ward

Partner & Birth Injury Team Leader

Failed Contraception and Sterilisation Claims

Contraception and sterilisation are medical interventions designed to regulate and control fertility, allowing individuals or couples to make informed decisions about family planning. Contraception encompasses a range of methods, both hormonal and non-hormonal, aimed at preventing pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, altering cervical mucus, or hindering sperm movement. It offers individuals the flexibility to choose the most suitable method based on their health, lifestyle, and preferences. On the other hand, sterilisation involves permanent procedures intended to prevent future pregnancies entirely. In the case of vasectomy for men, the sperm ducts are cut or sealed, while women undergo procedures like tubal ligation, where the fallopian tubes are blocked or sealed. Both contraception and sterilisation play crucial roles in empowering individuals to take control of their reproductive health, allowing them to plan and determine the size and spacing of their families. 


What are failed contraception and sterilisation claims? 

For individuals and families choosing to prevent pregnancy, sterilisation surgery is a common choice. However, medical negligence can lead to failed contraception, resulting in unintended pregnancies. This may occur due to errors relating to vasectomy, sterilisation or contraception procedures. 


Causes of failed vasectomy 

A failed vasectomy, a permanent surgical procedure sealing the sperm ducts, can result from surgical negligence. Factors such as missing tubes during the procedure or inadequate advice on postoperative precautions may contribute to failure. Additionally, previous surgeries in the area and the reattachment of blocked tubes can increase the risk. 


Causes of failed sterilisation 

Sterilisation involves blocking or sealing fallopian tubes to prevent fertilisation. Surgical negligence, such as not applying clips or rings correctly, may lead to failure. Similar to vasectomy, the fallopian tubes can rejoin, either immediately or years later


Causes of failed contraception 

Failed contraception can result from various factors, often stemming from both user-related and method-specific issues. User-related causes may include inconsistent or incorrect use of contraceptive methods, such as missing doses of oral contraceptives, using condoms improperly, or not adhering to the recommended schedule for hormonal injections or patches. Additionally, factors like forgetting to replace contraceptive devices, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), at the appropriate intervals can contribute to failure. Method-specific causes may involve the inherent limitations of certain contraceptives, such as the potential for decreased effectiveness due to interactions with medications or medical conditions. It's essential for individuals to thoroughly understand and adhere to the instructions provided for their chosen contraceptive method and, when in doubt, consult healthcare professionals for guidance on proper use to minimise the risk of failure. 


The effects of failed contraception and sterilisation 


Financial Impact 

One of the immediate consequences of failed contraception or sterilisation is the financial strain associated with an unplanned pregnancy. Families may find themselves unprepared for the additional expenses related to pregnancy, childbirth, and raising a child. Addressing the financial implications becomes a crucial aspect of managing the aftermath of failed procedures. 


Physical and Emotional Toll 

The physical and emotional toll of an unplanned pregnancy resulting from failed contraception or sterilisation cannot be overstated. Individuals may experience heightened stress, anxiety, and emotional distress, impacting their overall wellbeing. Moreover, the physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth can pose challenges, especially if the decision was made based on health considerations. 


Relationship Strain 

Failed contraception or sterilisation can strain relationships, as partners may grapple with the unexpected changes and uncertainties that come with an unplanned pregnancy. Communication breakdowns and increased stress levels are common, necessitating a concerted effort to navigate these challenges together. 


Re-sterilisation Procedures 

In some cases, individuals may need to undergo re-sterilisation procedures to address the initial failure. This adds another layer of physical and emotional stress, as individuals face the prospect of additional medical interventions and recovery periods. 


Impact on Career and Lifestyle 

An unplanned pregnancy resulting from failed contraception or sterilisation can significantly alter life plans and career trajectories. Individuals may need to reassess their professional goals and lifestyle choices, leading to potential disruptions and adjustments. 


Coping Mechanisms 

Understanding and acknowledging the potential effects of failed contraception and sterilisation is crucial for individuals and couples facing these challenges. Seeking support from healthcare professionals, counselling services, and support groups can aid in coping with the emotional and psychological impact of an unplanned pregnancy. 

By recognising and addressing the comprehensive effects of failed contraception and sterilisation, individuals can better navigate the aftermath, seeking support and making informed decisions for their physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. 


How Many People are Affected? 

The lifetime failure rates provide insight into the prevalence of these issues. For vasectomy, the failure rate is approximately 0.05%, while tubal occlusion failure is estimated at 0.5%. The NHS also states that fewer than 1 in every 100 women using the contraceptive pill correctly will become pregnant. Understanding these statistics is crucial for those considering these procedures. 


Prevention Strategies 


Informed Conversations 

Before undergoing the procedure, engage in a comprehensive discussion with healthcare professionals. Understand the procedure, associated risks, and what to expect during and after surgery. 


Postoperative Care 

Follow postoperative instructions diligently. Avoid intercourse too soon, adhere to guidelines provided by healthcare providers, and ensure proper wound care, including dressing changes. 


Awareness and Education 

Stay informed about the specific procedure, potential risks, and recommended postoperative practices. Being proactive in your healthcare can contribute to a successful outcome. 



Navigating contraception and sterilisation decisions requires careful consideration of potential risks. By understanding the causes, consequences, and prevention strategies for failed contraception and sterilisation claims, individuals can make informed choices, ensuring a smoother and more successful reproductive journey. 


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