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Sterilization for Women (Tubal Ligation)

Tubal Ligation, Tubal Sterilization, Sterilization for Women, and Essure sterilization

Table Of Contents

What is Tubal Ligation?

Tubal Ligation is also knows as Tubal Sterilization or Sterilization for women. It is a permanent procedure that women undergo to prevent pregnancy. During this procedure, a health care professional will close or block a woman’s fallopian tubes.

There are several procedure options:

  • Cutting and tying the fallopian tubes. The tubes are sealed by an instrument that sends electrical currents. They can also be closed by rings, clamps or clips. In some cases, a small piece of the tube is removed.
  • Putting tiny inserts into the fallopian tubes. This procedure is called Essure sterilization. The tubes become blocked as tissue grows around the inserts (usually takes 3-6 months).

How Does Tubal Ligation Prevent Pregnancy?

This method prevents sperm from reaching the eggs. Your body releases one egg each month and it passes through the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. Serialization for women blocks each of these tubes so the eggs cannot reach the uterus.

Without fertilization of an egg, a woman cannot become pregnant.

What Are the Benefits of Tubal Sterilization?

This method is a permanent method of birth control. It allows you to enjoy sex without worrying about becoming pregnant. It is simple, convenient, and safe. Most women say that they have an increase in sexual pleasure as well. This is likey because they don’t have to think about unwanted pregnancy.

In addition, you do not have to worry about other birth control methods anymore (like taking daily birth control pills, following up for monthly birth control shots, or replacing IUD’s).

Tubal Sterilization does not affect or change your hormone levels. The hormones that affect breast size, sex drive, muscle tone, voice, hair are still made in the ovaries. These hormones will still flow through your body as normal. You will still have normal periods and menopause will not happen earlier.

Tubal Ligation might be right for you, if you:

  • Do not want anymore children ever (you and your partner agree)
  • Do not want to pass a hereditary disability or illness
  • Think a future pregnancy can threaten your life
  • Agree with your partner that a vasectomy is not for him
  • Believe other birth control methods are unacceptable

What Are the Disadvantages of Tubal Sterilization?

This method is not for you if you:

  • Want to become pregnant in the future
  • Are feeling pressure from friends, family, or your partner
  • Are trying to solve a short term/temporary problem (being out of work, financial worries, physical illness, short-term mental, sexual or marriage problems).

It is important to think about the future and any possible life changes. Examples can include death of a child, remarriage or divorce.

Since this is a permanent procedure, reversal could cost thousands of dollars. This includes complicated surgery and no guarantees that you could become pregnant. Sometimes it is impossible to reconnect tubes because there may not be any left to connect.

Severe symptoms are rare, but you should address them immediately. These include:

  • Fainting spells
  • Continuous/severe abdominal pain
  • Odor or unusual discharge from your vagina
  • Rash or fever
  • Bleed from an incision
  • Difficulty breathing

Incision Sterilizations:

Sterilizations that require an incision are considered low-risk surgeries. However, complications can include a reaction to the anesthetic, infection, or bleeding. Infections are rare and you can generally treat them with antibiotics. Even more rare, you can injure your bowel, uterus, bladder or blood vessels. This would require another surgery to repair.

Out of 100 incision sterilizations, only 1-4 women have complications.

Death while performing this surgery is very rare and would likely be because of a reaction to general anesthesia.

Essure Sterilizations:

For women doing an Essure sterilization, symptoms can include vaginal discharge or light menstrual bleeding for 1-3 days.

In addition, there are other risks associated with Essure tubal ligation. These include:

  • Inserts may not be put in place correctly, requiring a second procedure
  • Inserts may move out of place, causing discomfort
  • Your tubes may not be completely blocked. If they don’t become blocked after 6 months, a second procedure may be required
  • Your uterus or tubes could be injured during the procedure, requiring a second surgery (very rare)
  • Inserts may be damaged during other medical procedures
  • Too much fluid builds up in your bloodstream
  • Pain in your pelvis, back, or during sex

The biggest disadvantage of sterilization for women is the risk of regret because there is no going back. It is important to consider other birth control options, such as an IUD or implant, before deciding on sterilization.

How Effective is Tubal Ligation?

This birth control option is nearly 100% effective:

  • Out of 1,000 who have Essure sterilization, fewer than 3 women become pregnant
  • Out of 1,000 who have incision sterilization methods, fewer than 5 women become pregnant

In addition, most incision sterilizations are effective right away. However, Essure will take up to 3 months for it to be effective.

Also, keep in mind that this birth control method does not protect against STD’s. A male or female condom should be used to reduce risks of those infections.

Is Sterilization for Women Safe?

Sterilization is generally a safe procedure but there are some risks.

One, very rare, risk is that the tubes may reconnect by themselves. Or with Essure, there is a chance that the inserts slip out of place or are put in the wrong place. If this happens, a second procedure is needed or another birth control method may need to be chosen.

In addition, for women who do get pregnant after tubal sterilization, 1 out of 3 pregnancies will develop within the Fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy). This could be life threatening, so you must see a health care professional right away. If your health care professional is not available, visit the hospital emergency room. Some signs of ectopic pregnancy include sudden weakness or fainting, pain in the top of the shoulder or abdomen, and/or irregular bleeding from the vagina.

How do I get Sterilized?

The first thing to do is talk to your health care professional about getting sterilized. This procedure can take place in a medical office, clinic or hospital. There may be waiting periods or laws that restrict you from getting the procedure.

If you want to get sterilized after childbirth, these arrangements need to be set up in advance.

Helpful Tips

The cost of sterilization can range from $0-6,000. This is much more than a vasectomy. If done in a hospital, it can cost even more.

Recovery from Essure is very short. Women can go back to work immediately or they can take a few days to resume normal activities. However, it is important to talk to a health care professional before having sex again. You should also use another birth control method until your doctor confirms that the procedure is a success.

The discomfit you feel after sterilization depends on the type of procedure, your general health and how well you deal with pain.

You might feel:

  • Slight discomfort in the abdomen area
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Dizzy
  • Nauseous
  • Bloated
  • Gassy

Check out other Birth Control Options and speak with your doctor before deciding on your birth control method.