London, April 27 : Scottish doctors have developed a new technique for women wanting to be sterilised - a 30-minute 'female snip'.
The new method not only prevents the need for abdominal surgery under general anaesthetic but also long recovery times.
According to doctors, more women will now go for sterilisation and fewer men will undergo vasectomies.
Present surgery for sterilisation involves clipping the fallopian tubes through small incisions made via the abdomen under general anaesthetic.
This procedure usually leaves patients with two small abdominal wounds and a recovery time of up to a week. Besides this, it carries a risk of failure or complications and is not suitable for many women.
Developed at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the new technique involves inserting tiny coils in the fallopian tubes through the cervix, which means women do not need to undergo surgery.
A camera, called a hysteroscope, is then used to see into the womb and locate the openings of the fallopian tubes. Measuring 4cm long and less than a millimetre wide, the coils block the tubes, thus preventing eggs from entering the womb.
Dr Sue Milne, Associate Specialist in Reproductive Medicine at the ERI, has tried the technique on 20 patients in recent weeks.
She said that the new technique, called Essure hysteroscopic sterilisation, is very exciting because it has a much lower failure rate, adding that the procedure can be performed in the outpatient clinic.
"The patient just takes over-the-counter painkillers an hour before the procedure. The vast majority of patients don't need any anaesthetic. Afterwards they are fine to go home," she said.
Milne suggested that the woman is not immediately sterilised but the blockage in the fallopian tubes takes place over the next three months as the tissues in her fallopian tubes grow into the coil, so she must use another form of contraception in the meantime.
She believes the ease of the technique will make it popular among women and may change things for the future.
"Essure widens the number of women who could have sterilisation. Up until now we have encouraged men to go for the snip because of the risks of sterilisation to women," she said.
"Vasectomy has until now been the less invasive form of sterilisation but Essure is challenging that so it is almost similar to the vasectomy," she added.
Sterilisation is usually conducted on women in their 30s and 40s who want a permanent method of contraception.
The traditional procedure costs around 950 pounds but Essure is slightly cheaper costing 700 pounds per patient.