Tubal ligation, commonly referred to as “getting your tubes tied,” is a surgical procedure that closes off each fallopian tube. This keeps sperm and egg from meeting – thus preventing pregnancy. It is considered more than 99% effective.
Is Getting Your Tubes Tied Right for You?
Of course, the most important factor in deciding on tubal ligation is being sure you don’t want to become pregnant at some future point in time. Often, women who select a tubal libation already have children and don’t wish to increase their current family size. Or, pregnancy presents a serious health risk to them or the baby. Also, couples with a genetic disorder may opt for tubal ligation, so they don’t pass along their hereditary concern.
Benefits of Tubal Ligation
The advantages of tubal ligation include that it is:
- Easy – there are no pills to remember to take or products to insert prior to having sex
- Cost effective – it’s a one-and-done procedure versus the ongoing cost of most birth control methods
- Hormone-free – allows you to avoid regularly taking hormone medication
- Permanent – you no longer have reason to worry about an unintended pregnancy or birth control choices
Disadvantages of Tubal Ligation
The drawbacks to tubal ligation include that it is:
- Surgery – and as is the case for all surgical procedures, there are risks involved
- No protection against STIs – including all infections and illnesses that can be passed along with sexual activity
- Not 100% effective – no birth control method is 100% effective; the younger you are when you have a tubal ligation, the greater the risk that you might be the 1-person in 100 for whom the procedure fails
- Permanent – in case you change your mind
While reversal procedures are available, your chance of becoming pregnant after a reversible procedure is significantly reduced. It’s best to choose tubal ligation when you and your partner are positive you won’t want to become pregnant in the future.
Tubal Ligation: What to Expect
Tubal ligation is a relatively straightforward outpatient procedure. It may also be done during a C-section or immediately following a vaginal childbirth.
Your OB-GYN doctor will provide instructions on how best to prepare for your surgery. In general, you may be asked to stop taking blood thinners. You will need to have someone drive you to the surgery center or hospital and pick you up afterward.
You may also be advised to consistently and appropriately use contraceptives for at least one month prior to your tubal ligation. You may also be asked to take a pregnancy test before the procedure.
A tubal ligation performed as an outpatient procedure or after a vaginal childbirth is performed laparoscopically, with small incisions made near the belly button. Your doctor will use a flexible, lighted tube to access the fallopian tubes. Both tubes can be sealed off in a number of ways, including being cut, tied, clipped shut, or banded. The surgery typically takes less than an hour. You will likely have a couple of small stiches afterward covered with a bandage.
Follow your doctor’s post-op instructions. In general, you should be able to resume sexual activity in a week or so. In addition, your menstrual cycle should continue as usual – a tubal ligation does not impact menstruation at all. It is important to note that while a tubal ligation prevents pregnancy, it does not lessen the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).