Regardless of whether they already have children or not, women may elect to undergo a tubal ligation procedure. Tubal ligation is a form of permanent birth control, sometimes referred to as ‘tubal sterilization,’ or more colloquially, having your tubes tied.
During this procedure, a woman’s fallopian tubes are cut, tied, or blocked to prevent future pregnancies, stopping the egg, or ovum, from traveling from the ovaries down the fallopian tubes. This also ensures that a partner’s sperm will never reach or fertilize the ovum, thereby physically preventing pregnancy from ever occurring.
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Tubal Ligation Procedure
In the days leading up to the procedure, the patient may be asked to stop smoking and/or taking certain medications. The night before, it’s common to be instructed not to eat or drink anything in preparation for the surgery. On the day of, it’s recommended that patients wear loose-fitting clothing to their appointment.
The procedure is typically performed in a hospital or an outpatient surgical clinic. During the procedure, a general or local/spinal anesthetic may be used. The former puts patients to sleep—that is, it makes them unconscious—while the latter numbs the affected area, preventing the patient from feeling pain. Provided everything goes smoothly, most women can expect to return home the day of the procedure, although anyone going under the influence of an anesthetic should plan to get a ride to and from the facility.
The surgery itself is relatively quick and minimally invasive. After the patient is anesthetized, the surgeon will make one or more small incisions in the abdomen, and gas may be pumped into the belly to help inflate the area and give the surgeon more room to work. The surgeon will then insert a laparoscope—a slender instrument with a light and camera—into the abdomen, along with the surgical instruments that will perform the ligation. Using these implements, they will ‘ligate’ the fallopian tubes by cutting, tying, clamping, banding, or sealing them with an electric current. Finally, they close up the incisions with a few stitches, dress the area, and the surgery is finished.
After Your Surgery
Patients may experience some discomfort, tenderness, and gas—these are perfectly normal remnants of the surgical procedure. It’s recommended that women post-ligation avoid heavy lifting for about a week. After the procedure, women may be able to have sex normally after about a week of recovery, although this depends on the individual. Although ovulation is affected by the ligation, the menstrual cycle will continue unchanged.
A tubal ligation can make many women and their partners more comfortable and confident having sex, as it removes the risk of unwanted pregnancy. However, women who engage in intercourse with multiple partners still need to practice safe sex, as tubal ligation does not protect against STDs.
Tubal ligation is highly effective, with a 99% rate of pregnancy prevention. However, it is worth noting that, while unlikely, it is still possible to get pregnant after a tubal ligation. Unfortunately, this procedure also increases the chances of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. While post-procedure pregnancies are rare, it is more likely in women under 28 and women who had the surgery more than ten years ago.
Tubal Ligation Reversal
There is a reason that tubal ligation is considered a permanent form of birth control. Although it is possible to attempt a reversal surgery, only 50-80% of women who get their fallopian tubes reattached can become pregnant.
If you are considering a tubal ligation procedure, you should be absolutely certain that you do not want children. However, if you think there is even a small chance that you may change your mind in the future, there are other, less permanent birth control strategies that may be preferable.
If you have any questions or concerns about tubal ligation or wonder if this procedure might be right for you, consult with your doctor or reach out to Zergo to learn more. Zergo empowers you to take control of your fertility—let us show you the possibilities!