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.
Tubal ligation procedures typically take less than an hour to complete and do not require an overnight hospital stay. However, like any surgery, it’s a good idea to prepare by making sure you understand the whole process and have a plan for before and afterward.
Here are a few steps you can take to make your tubal ligation experience smoother:
- Make sure you have a ride home: Many tubal ligation procedures allow you to return home the same day, but if your doctor recommends general anesthesia or pain medications, you may be groggy or tired after surgery and unable to drive.
- Make an at-home recovery plan: In addition to your return home, make sure you have a plan for your recovery, which will likely require you to take it easy for a few days. Avoid strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects.
- Learn what to eat and drink the day before surgery: Speak with your doctor about whether you should change your eating and/or drinking habits before surgery. It is common to stop eating and drinking 12 hours before surgery.
- Adjust any medication use: Talk to your doctor about all medications you are currently taking, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, multivitamins, and herbal supplements.
- Talk to your doctor about any questions and concerns you have about the procedure and what to expect before, during, and afterward. Make sure you understand which surgery is planned, what approach your doctor will use, and the risks and benefits.
Recovery time following a tubal ligation depends on the approach used and whether you gave birth immediately before the procedure. An open tubal ligation takes one to two days of hospital recovery, with most women able to return to work within one to two weeks.
Most women who undergo laparoscopic tubal ligation can go home within hours of the surgery and return to work or other regular activities within a couple of days.
Side effects of tubal ligation
While tubal ligation is a more involved procedure than male sterilization (vasectomy), side effects and complications are not common. But as with any surgery, you must allow your body time to heal.
Side effects or complications from tubal ligation are infrequent but may include infection, bleeding, reaction to anesthesia, and injury to the bowel, bladder, or nearby blood vessels.
Your doctor will advise you on how to manage your recovery and minimize the chances of complications, as well as whether you’ll need to change your habits (such as by avoiding heavy lifting and other strenuous activities) while you recover.
Pregnancy and STIs after tubal ligation
Tubal ligation is one of the most effective forms of birth control. Pregnancy after tubal ligation is extremely unlikely. However, if sperm does manage to fertilize an egg, it is more likely that the egg will implant outside the uterus. This is called an ectopic pregnancy and is a medical emergency. If you have symptoms of pregnancy after a tubal ligation or think you may have an ectopic pregnancy, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Tubal ligation does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs/STIs). Unless you are sure that your partner is free of sexually transmitted diseases, continue to use barrier contraception, such as condoms, to prevent infection.
Tubal ligation and menopause
One of the differences of tubal ligation compared to hysterectomy and other more invasive procedures is that your menstrual cycle will not be affected. Compared to other birth control methods, it is less likely to affect sex drive. Your hormone levels will remain constant before and after the procedure, and you will still experience menstruation as you did before surgery.
Tubal ligation also won’t affect the timing of when you enter perimenopause or menopause.
Dignity Health provides compassionate care, expert advice, and procedures for tubal ligation.
Talk to your OB/GYN today to discuss your options and arrange your procedure.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.