Tubal ligation is a permanent surgical birth control procedure commonly known as “tying the tubes.” Although it is possible to reverse the procedure, this involves major surgery, and you still may not achieve pregnancy afterward, so only consider tubal ligation when you are 100 percent sure your child-bearing days are over.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
You will have to undergo anesthesia for the procedure, either general or spinal. The surgery itself only takes about 30 minutes. The surgeon will make small incisions near your belly button, then insert a laparoscope (a tube with a camera and a light on the end).
Using small surgical instruments, the surgeon will locate the fallopian tubes and either cut, tie, clamp or seal them so no sperm can pass through to fertilize an egg, and no fertilized eggs can enter and implant in the uterus. The tiny incisions will receive a few stitches and then the wounds will be dressed.
Know the Risks
Overall, tubal ligation is a safe procedure that many women choose once they are finished having children. However, if complications arise, it’s likely from one of the following causes:
- Internal bleeding in the abdomen
- Infection in the incision
- Organ damage
- Anesthesia complications
In addition, after a tubal ligation, it’s still possible to become pregnant; however, it’s rare. After one year, five out of 1,000 become pregnant. The tubes may grow back together, or the surgery may not have been completed correctly. If you do become pregnant, you have an increased chance of an ectopic pregnancy, so you should see a doctor immediately if you have pain on one side of your abdomen or you’ve missed a period and have pregnancy symptoms.
The Recovery Process
You are usually allowed to go home the same day you have a tubal ligation. You may have vaginal spotting and some bloating. Your surgeon may have pumped gas into your abdomen in order to see your organs better, but your body will absorb it over the next day.
You will be instructed to rest for at least one full day while the effects of the anesthesia wear off, but you should be ready to resume normal activity the same week. You can have sexual intercourse as soon as you feel well enough, and you don’t have to use any additional birth control methods — you are protected.
Are You Happy with Your Current Birth Control?
If you want a permanent birth control option but you like the benefits of your current hormonal birth control, such as acne control, light menstrual bleeding and more, you may want to consider a long-term form of hormonal birth control instead, such as the Mirena IUD.
In addition, before you undergo a tubal ligation, discuss the risks with your partner, if you are in a long-term relationship. It’s much less risky and much less expensive for a man to get a vasectomy than for a woman to have a tubal ligation. It also results in greater protection against future pregnancy.
If you feel that tubal ligation is the right solution for you, talk to the team at Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center. We can handle your procedure with precision and care.