Volume 50, Issue 3
Pages 139 - 145

Desire for Sterilization Reversal Among U.S. Females: Increasing Inequalities by Educational Level


For decades, high reliance on female sterilization in the United States has been accompanied by a high level of desire for sterilization reversal, and less‐educated women have been more likely than better educated women to use the method and desire a reversal. Little is known about how levels of and educational differentials in such desire have changed in recent decades.


Data from 4,147 women who reported being sterile from a tubal sterilization in the 1995, 2002 and 2006–2010 waves of the National Survey of Family Growth were analyzed using chi‐square and Wald tests and binary logistic regression analyses. Predicted probabilities were calculated to determine the likelihood of desire for procedure reversal by wave and educational level.


The prevalence of desire for sterilization reversal rose by 41%, from 18% in 1995 to 23% in 2002 and 25% in 2006–2010. Overall, women with a bachelor's degree were less likely than those who had not finished high school to desire a reversal (odds ratio, 0.2), and this educational differential was larger in 2006–2010 than in earlier waves. Predicted probabilities indicate that 9% of sterilized women with less than a high school education and 8% of those with a bachelor's degree expressed a desire for procedure reversal in 1995, as did 15% and 3%, respectively, in 2006–2010.


Future research should consider how insurance coverage of all methods under the Affordable Care Act may affect use of sterilization and desire for reversal.

Authors' Affiliations

Mieke C.W. Eeckhaut is assistant professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware, Newark. Megan M. Sweeney is professor, Department of Sociology and California Center for Population Research, University of California, Los Angeles. Lei Feng is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles.

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Guttmacher Institute.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health