Tubal ligation is a safe surgical procedure that permanently prevents pregnancy. It is a procedure that is often referred to as female sterilization or “having your tubes tied.” You might opt to have this procedure done if you don’t want to have children or if you are done having children.
The procedure involves blocking, cutting, or manipulating your Fallopian tubes in such a way that sperm cannot reach an unfertilized egg once it has been released. Tubal ligation does not affect your regular menstrual cycle, and it is a more reliable, long-term method of pregnancy prevention than traditional contraception methods.
Tubal Ligation Procedure
What happens during a tubal ligation procedure depends on what method your physician uses to obstruct the Fallopian tubes from being able to transport sperm to an egg.
With a standard tubal ligation procedure, your physician gives you an anesthetic to help prevent pain. Through incisions on your navel, it’s possible to access your uterus and fallopian tubes. Using special instruments, your physician seals or blocks the tubes with rings or clips.
Laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgery, is an alternative to open surgery. It involves a surgical technique of small incisions that are usually smaller than one inch. Through these incisions, your physician can use a tiny instrument called a laparoscope—along with other tools—to perform a tubal ligation.
Recovery Period for Tubal Ligation
With tubal ligation, you can return home the same day as your procedure, and you can return to most normal activities right away. Your physician might recommend avoiding sexual intercourse or strenuous physical activity for a few weeks.
Pros of Having a Tubal Ligation
If you’re entirely sure that you don’t want children or that you’re finished having children, tubal ligation can offer a permanent, safe solution for birth control.
Since the procedure doesn’t affect your regular menstrual cycle, you’ll continue to feel like your normal self and enjoy spontaneity and freedom when it comes to sexual intimacy.
Birth Control FAQs
Some birth control offer benefits beyond preventing pregnancy, such as:
- Treating acne
- Protecting against sexually transmitted diseases
- Reducing menstrual pain and related symptoms, such as fatigue
In certain cases, birth control can be used to treat medical conditions, such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
There are several birth control methods available, and each method varies in its effectiveness. Some of the most common methods include:
- Oral contraception (the pill) - a daily pill that prevents pregnancy through the release of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, or both.
- Birth control patch - a patch that delivers hormones to your bloodstream to prevent ovulation.
- Male and female condoms - a barrier method that prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg.
- Diaphragm - a small cup-like device that sits over the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus; can be used with spermicide.
- IUD (intrauterine device) - a small device your physician implants into your uterus that prevents egg fertilization. Learn More
- Vaginal ring -a small, removable ring you insert into your vagina that delivers localized hormones to prevent pregnancy.
Other options include:
- Hormone Injections
- Nexplanon®, which is implanted into your arm
Typically, you might have to try a couple of different methods before you find the best choice for you and your partner.
If you opt for a hormonal method of birth control, sometimes it can take a while for your body to get used to the influx of hormones. You may experience some side effects, like bloating, mood swings, or changes in your menstrual cycle. With hormonal birth control, you usually need to wait at least a week after starting it to have unprotected sex.
If you’re using a barrier method of birth control, these are effective right away. Barrier methods may be less effective than hormonal contraception, however, so it’s important to understand the risks and to use a backup method, if necessary.
If you decide you want to switch contraception methods at any time, just let your physician know, and they will be happy to help you find something that works better for you.