Tubal ligation (a permanent contraceptive method) can be done immediately after vaginal or cesarean delivery or within a few hours or days following delivery:
- Post-partum sterilization during cesarean delivery: Immediately after a woman gives birth or during the cesarean section.
- Post-partum sterilization after vaginal delivery: Within the first 24 hours or days of a vaginal delivery through a procedure called mini-laparotomy.
- Interval tubal ligation: Anytime during the regular menstrual cycle.
What is tubal ligation?
Tubal ligation, wherein tubal refers to the fallopian tubes, is a surgical procedure done to prevent pregnancy.
It is also called:
- Female or tubal sterilization
- Getting tubes tied
Every month an egg is released from one of the two ovaries, which travels to the adjacent fallopian tube and waits there for the sperm to get fertilized. Through the method of ligation (tying) of these tubes, sperm is prevented to reach the egg, thus preventing unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.
You may need a tubal ligation if:
- You have a complete family and do not need more births
- You are in a stable relationship and both partners agree on a permanent birth control method
- You are at health risk if you become pregnant
- You or your partner suffers from a genetic disorder that could pass on to the child
How is tubal ligation done?
This is a one-day (takes approximately 30 minutes) procedure done in a surgical inpatient unit under general anesthesia (completely unconscious) or spinal anesthesia (awake but unable to feel pain).
In this procedure, both the fallopian tubes are blocked or tied in the following ways:
- An intravenous line is started to administer fluids and medicines to make the woman feel relaxed and sleepy.
- The surgeon makes one or more small cuts (incisions) near the belly button.
- For a better view and more room to work, gas is pumped into the abdomen to inflate it.
- A laparoscope (a narrow tube with a light and a camera on the end) is inserted into the abdomen.
- Long, thin instruments are put through the laparoscope or through another tiny cut to find and grab hold of the fallopian tubes.
- The tubes are cut, tied, clamped, banded, or sealed off with an electric current.
- The incisions in the skin are closed using one to two stitches and then the area is covered with small dressings.
- The woman may have some symptoms after the procedure, such as abdominal pain, cramping, dizziness, fatigue, and shoulder pain (a result of pumped gas).
After the procedure, the woman can gradually resume their normal activities, including a normal diet, have normal sexual intercourse (after a week), and expect normal menstrual cycles. However, they should avoid lifting heavy weights or strenuous exercise for a few weeks.
What are the risks involved in tubal ligation?
Even though tubal ligation is a safe, secure, and effective birth control procedure, all surgeries carry some risks that cannot be underestimated. Serious problems occur in less than 1 out of 1000 women.
Some of the potential risks include:
- Excessive bleeding on an incision site
- Damage to other abdominal organs
- Side effects caused by anesthesia used
- Incomplete closure of the fallopian tube resulting in unwanted pregnancy
- Ectopic pregnancy (fertilization and implantation of the egg outside the uterus)
Depending on their specific health condition, a female may have other risks post-surgery if they are already suffering from any of the health conditions, including:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Lung diseases
- Past abdominal surgeries
7 pros of tubal ligation
- Permanent birth control
- Safe, secure procedure
- Effective (only 1 out of 200 women may still get pregnant)
- No change in regular menstrual cycles (no hormonal abruption)
- More relaxed to have intercourse
- Lowers the odds of ovarian cancer
- No side effects of birth control pills, such as mood swings, weight gain, or headaches, or the ones caused by intrauterine devices, such as cramps, heavier periods, or spotting
7 cons of tubal ligation
- Reversal surgery is complicated and often unsuccessful
- No protection against sexually transmitted diseases
- Failure of the procedure can result in unwanted pregnancy
- Possibility of ectopic pregnancy in the future
- Infection or lingering abdominal pain
- Risks involved, such as bleeding or damage to the bowel, bladder, or major blood vessels
- Post-tubal ligation syndrome (characterized by hot flashes, night sweats, a dry vagina, mood swings, trouble sleeping, a lower sex drive, and irregular periods)
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Tubal Ligation. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/tubal-ligation
American Academy of Family Physicians. Tubal Sterilization. https://familydoctor.org/tubal-sterilization/
Reese D. Getting Your Tubes Tied: Pros, Cons, What to Know. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/should-i-get-my-tubes-tied
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Postpartum Sterilization. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/postpartum-sterilization
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