What is a tubal ligation or sterilization?
A tubal ligation is a permanent form of birth control. It is also referred to as: "tying the tubes" or a "tubal sterilization." During a tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy. A tubal ligation prevents sperm from passing through the fallopian tube and prevents the egg from moving towards the uterus; it also blocks sperm from traveling up the fallopian tubes to the egg.
Should I get a tubal ligation or sterilization?
The following is a list of important facts to note about tubal ligation, including the risks and complications, and points to consider when determining if this option is right for you:
- A tubal ligation does not affect a woman's menstrual cycle. Ovulation will continue to occur.
- A tubal ligation can be done at any time, including after childbirth or in combination with another abdominal surgical procedure, such as a C-section.
- It is close to impossible to reverse a tubal ligation; tubal reversal surgery is considered to be a major surgery, one that is not always effective.
- A tubal ligation permanently prevents pregnancy, ending the need for any type of contraception.
- A tubal ligation is not the best option of birth control if:
- You might want to become pregnant at some point
- You're obese
- You have severe cardiac or pulmonary disease
- You have blood-clotting problems
- You have internal abdominal scarring
- You have a pre-existing gynecologic condition such as, irregular periods or abnormally heavy or prolonged periods, that may be better treated through hormonal contraception
- Tubal ligation is major surgery. Risks associated with tubal ligation include:
- Damage to the bowel, bladder or major blood vessels
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Wound infection
- Prolonged pelvic or abdominal pain
- You may be at higher risk of complications from a tubal ligation if:
- A tubal ligation will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
In the first year after a tubal ligation, an estimated 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant. The younger you are at the time of a tubal ligation, the more likely the sterilization is to fail. If you do conceive after having a tubal ligation, there's a higher chance that the pregnancy will be ectopic — when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube.
Learn more about other birth control methods in our Birth Control Guide!