Female sterilization is a permanent method of birth control. It should only be done if you never want to become pregnant again.
What is female sterilization?
Female sterilization is called tubal sterilization or tubal ligation. You may also hear it called “having your tubes tied.” The fallopian tubes are surgically separated and sealed. The egg then cannot travel from the ovary to the uterus (womb) and the sperm cannot travel up the tube to fertilize the egg, preventing pregnancy.
How is female sterilization done?
Female sterilization is done in the hospital’s outpatient surgery department. Some women may have the sterilization done in the hospital after having a baby.
Two small incisions are made in the abdomen. An instrument called a laparoscope is inserted into one incision around the umbilicus or belly button. This instrument has a light that helps the doctor see into the abdomen. The fallopian tubes are then grasped with another instrument placed through a second small incision and the tube is blocked with a band or clip, or burned using electrocoagulation.
Two different methods may be used to separate or cut the fallopian tubes. Both methods permanently destroy a portion of the tube.
- The electrocoagulation method uses electricity to cut the tubes. An electric current seals the tubes by causing them to clot (coagulation). This prevents bleeding during surgery.
- In the non-electric methods, a band or clip is used. These are put around each tube to compress and divide the tube.
How good is female sterilization?
Female sterilization is 95 to 99% effective. This means that it prevents pregnancy most of the time.
Are there problems with female sterilization?
All surgical operations have some risks, but severe complications are uncommon. Some problems that you might experience include slight abdominal or shoulder pain, feeling tired or getting an infection. Rarely will your tubes grow together again. About 5 to 18 in 1,000 women will become pregnant over a 10 year period. If you become pregnant after sterilization, the pregnancy may grow in the tube rather than the uterus. This can cause severe problems.
If you are interested in sterilization options for men, click here.