Tubal ligation

Overview of tubal ligation

Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure for women who wish to prevent pregnancy permanently. During a tubal ligation, doctors close the fallopian tubes to prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg. The surgery is sometimes referred to as female sterilization or “getting your tubes tied.”

You may choose to have tubal ligation if:

  • You do not want children in the future
  • Getting pregnant may put your health at risk
  • You are concerned about passing on a genetic disorder or health condition
  • You are unable to tolerate the side effects of other contraceptive methods

Tubal ligation is meant to be permanent. If you think you might want children in the future, tubal ligation surgery is not a good choice. While it is sometimes possible to reverse tubal ligation, the success rate for the procedure is low. You should only proceed with tubal ligation if you are sure you do not intend to have children.

To get expert advice and professional care for tubal ligation, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health or visit one of our locations near you.


In general, there are two approaches for a tubal ligation procedure:

  • Open: In an open tubal ligation, your doctor will make an incision above your pubic bone or just under your belly button. Through this incision, your doctor will access your fallopian tubes and either cauterize (burn), clip, tie and cut, band, or altogether remove your fallopian tubes. This method is often used after a C-section.
  • Laparoscopic: In a laparoscopic tubal ligation, your doctor will make several tiny incisions in your lower abdomen. Through these incisions, your doctor will insert a tool called a laparoscope, which includes a small lighted camera at the end of a flexible tube. Your doctor can then use the same methods (cauterizing, clipping, tying, or removing) to complete the tubal ligation. Since this is a less-invasive surgical approach, it typically requires much less recovery time than an open procedure.


The fallopian tubes are the passages that connect your ovaries with your uterus. Eggs travel from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes into the uterus. A tubal ligation closes or removes the fallopian tubes so that this cannot occur.

Surgeons perform tubal ligation in a hospital operating room or surgery center. Depending on whether you have an open or laparoscopic procedure, your surgeon will make one or several incisions in your lower abdomen. During this gynecological procedure, the surgeon will then cut or clamp the fallopian tubes or seal them using a cauterizing tool. If you just had a C-section birth, the surgeon can perform the tubal ligation immediately afterward using the same incision.

You may be under general anesthesia for the duration of the procedure. If you are awake, your doctor will give you medication to block sensation, so you do not feel pain. The process takes about 30 minutes.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.