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Is Getting Your Tubes Tied the Right Choice?

February 09, 2021

About one in four American women will choose to have their tubes tied. But there are questions to consider when deciding if this type of contraception might be right for you, because tubal ligation results in permanent sterilization

You can decide to undergo the procedure anytime, and it is often performed immediately following childbirth. During surgery, your doctor will clamp and block, or sever and seal, your fallopian tubes to prevent eggs from getting fertilized by sperm. 

Don’t Want Kids? Know Your Options

The biggest concern with the decision to undergo a tubal ligation is the risk of regret, especially for younger women who may decide later that they want kids, after all.  Although it is possible to have a tubal ligation surgically reversed, there is no guarantee you will be able to have a child. About 50 percent to 80 percent of women who undergo a reversal are able to get pregnant.

Younger women should first talk with their doctor to consider other long-acting reversible contraception methods available, such as:

  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)

  • Subdermal implantable device (Nexplanon)

  • Injections (Depo-Provera)

Using one of these methods, or other forms of birth control such as the pill, can give women the time they need to consider the long-term repercussions of tubal ligation and determine whether sterilization is the best decision for them and their family.

Pros and Cons of Tubal Ligation

For women who have chosen this permanent contraceptive method, research has shown that the procedure can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. But as with any surgery, a patient will have to weigh the pros and cons: 

  • Pros: Tubal ligation is an outpatient procedure with rapid recovery and is immediately effective. The surgery is performed laparoscopically, which means the doctor makes tiny cuts in your abdominal area with the aid of a camera. 

  • Cons: Laparoscopic tubal ligation requires anesthesia. Any surgery comes with inherent risk such as bowel injury, hemorrhage or blood transfusions.

  • Risk of failure: In an estimated one in 200 cases, a tubal ligation fails to prevent pregnancy. The main risk is ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening condition in which the fertilized egg grows in the fallopian tube. Any positive pregnancy test found following tubal ligation requires immediate medical attention. 

What To Expect After Surgery

Tubal ligation doesn’t affect a woman’s body or change the physical experience during sex. For many, the main benefit is no longer worrying about getting pregnant. As couples age, it could make sexual intercourse more relaxing and pleasurable. Some women have reported more painful and heavier periods following tubal ligations. However, this could be a perceived response and not evidence-based.


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