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Any surgical procedure intended to end fertility permanently (seecontraception). Such operations remove or interrupt the anatomical pathways through which the cells involved in fertilization travel (seereproductive system). They are relatively simple and more than 99% effective. The operations used in humans are vasectomy in men and tubal ligation (tying off and blocking or cutting of the fallopian tubes) in women. Though these operations are considered permanent, the development of microsurgery has improved the chances of reversal. Animals are sterilized by castration in males and spaying (removal of the ovaries) in females.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sterilization, visit Britannica.com.