What is female sterilization?
Female sterilization refers to permanent birth control for women and is achieved through tubal ligation. Normally, when a female ovulates each month, the egg travels down the fallopian tube, where it can be fertilized if sperm are present. Tubal ligation is a technique where the fallopian tubes are tied off, preventing both the egg and sperm from traveling through them. In some cases, the fallopian tube is removed entirely. You may hear tubal ligation referred to as “getting your tubes tied.”
Currently, tubal ligation is the only female sterilization option available. However, there are several different ways the surgery may be performed.
Surgical Approaches for Tubal Ligation
This method may be used for women who have given birth recently. Because the uterus is still enlarged, it sits closer to the abdominal wall than usual. A tiny incision is made just below the belly button, and small tools are used to cut, clamp, or cauterize the fallopian tubes.
Laparoscopic Tubal Ligation
For women who choose to have tubal ligation performed when they have not just given birth, a traditional laparoscopic tubal ligation will need to be performed. Since the uterus is smaller and not accessed as easily, a laparoscope will be used. A laparoscope is a surgical tool comprising a long, thin tube with a camera attached.
The laparoscope is inserted into an incision made below the belly button. A second incision may be made to insert the necessary tools. Using the camera, the surgeon locates the fallopian tubes and then cauterizes them, applies metal clips, or removes a section of the tubes.
Postpartum Tubal Ligation
If you are pregnant and deliver via c-section, your tubes can be tied before the closure of the incision or through the same incision in the hours or days after you give birth. This means there is no additional downtime for recovery, as you’ll be recovering from the c-section anyway.
Benefits of Tubal Ligation
There are several benefits to tubal ligation for women. Benefits include:
- One-Time Procedure: There is no need for ongoing maintenance.
- Highly Effective: The procedure is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
- Non-Hormonal: Many methods of birth control are hormone-based. Tubal ligation eliminates side effects and other problems associated with hormonal birth control.
Tubal Ligation Side Effects
As with any surgery, there may be risks. Those related to the surgery include bleeding, infection, or damage to other organs. Additionally, there may be risks associated with general anesthesia.
In the rare event a pregnancy does occur, there is a risk it may be an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies cannot develop normally and must be removed. Life-threatening complications can occur if not addressed.
Discuss Female Sterilization with An OB/GYN
Tubal ligation is an effective, permanent contraception method. If you are considering pursuing female sterilization, whether you are currently pregnant or not, schedule an appointment to discuss your options.
Where does the egg go after tubal ligation?
After tubal ligation, the egg is absorbed by the body. Since the fallopian tubes are blocked or severed, the egg cannot travel to the uterus and is eventually absorbed.
Can you get pregnant after tubal ligation?
While it’s rare, pregnancy after tubal ligation can occur. The procedure is over 99% effective, but there’s a slight chance of the tubes naturally rejoining or an ectopic pregnancy occurring.
Can tubal ligation be reversed?
Tubal ligation reversal is possible but not guaranteed. The success of reversal depends on the method used for the original procedure, the length of the remaining fallopian tubes, and other individual factors.
How much does tubal ligation cost?
Many insurance plans cover the cost of some or all of a tubal ligation procedure. It’s best to call your insurance company to find out your coverage benefits and potential out-of-pocket expenses.