What is tubal sterilization?

Tubal SterilizationTubal sterilization is a surgical birth control procedure utilized by women who want to permanently prevent the chance of pregnancy.

Understanding tubal sterilization

Tubal sterilization is a means of preventing pregnancy by cutting or blocking a woman’s fallopian tubes so that the sperm cannot travel up the tubes to fertilize the egg. The procedure is also referred to as tubal ligation or having your tubes tied.

There are three different ways to obstruct the fallopian tubes: At the time of a cesarean section, during a hysteroscopic procedure, and during a laparoscopic procedure.

During the laparoscopic procedure, the abdomen is filled with air and a tiny, lighted tube is inserted through a small incision. A second small incision may be required for additional surgical instruments. The tubes are cauterized (burned) or clamped with a clip or band. The results are immediate and the procedure is extremely effective. General anesthesia is required for laparoscopic sterilization.

Tubal sterilization can be performed in the office under a local anesthetic with hysteroscopic tubal occlusion. This procedure involves no incision and a lighted tube is inserted through the cervix and the opening of the fallopian tubes are visualized and devices are placed that either block or cauterize the tubes from the inside. In one of these procedures, another form of birth control is needed for 3 months until the tubes have scarred around the implants and tubal occlusion can be confirmed with a sonogram or x-ray procedure.

At the time of delivery by Cesarean section the tubes can be occluded or removed after the baby is born.

Tubal sterilization: Facts to consider

Before scheduling tubal sterilization for birth control, it is important to fully understand the procedure. Here are some key points to consider:

  • It is a surgical procedure
  • Results are permanent. Reversing tubal sterilization is difficult and has a low success rate
  • Tubal sterilization does not prevent sexually transmitted infections

After tubal sterilization

Most women recover from tubal sterilization without problems. After the procedure you may experience:

  • Minor pain and/or tenderness
  • Gas and bloating from the gas at laparoscopy
  • Shoulder pain from the air pumped into the abdomen during the procedure
  • To avoid heavy lifting for 3 weeks if laparoscopy is done
  • Menstrual periods to return to normal
  • If the tubal is done by hysteroscopy in the office setting, you may return to normal activities the next day