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Women interested in a permanent form of birth control should look into an attractive procedure called tubal ligation. This surgical procedure serilizes a woman very effectively, preventing pregnancy with a failure rate as low as 0.4%.

So, what exactly is tubal ligation? This surgical procedure involves a woman’s fallopian tubes being cut, clamped or blocked, preventing eggs from traveling down to the uterus. Not only that, a tubal ligation also blocks sperm from traveling along the tube to meet the egg. 

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Women should be aware of one important fact — tubal ligation is generally regarded as a permanent type of birth control, although reversal surgery may be available.
 
However, there is no guarantee that tubal ligation reversal will work. Success rates for pregnancy after a tubal ligation reversal range between 70% and 80%. [1]
There are also several possible side effects and possible complications that could occur during and after the tubal ligation operation. Although tubal ligation is an effective way of preventing pregnancy, in no way does tubal ligation protect against sexually transmitted diseases, which is why safety measures will still be necessary if a patient enjoys a high-risk sexual life — which would be any sex with a partner of unknown STD status.

Tubal Ligation: Statistical Data

More than 700,000 tubal ligation procedures are performed each year in the United States, and almost 50 percent are performed right after a woman gives birth. Eleven million US women between 15 and 44 years of age rely on sterilization, and more than 190 million couples worldwide use surgical sterilization. Tubal ligation obviously represents a very safe and reliable method of permanent birth control. [1]

Indications For A Tubal Ligation Operation

Tubal ligation may be the best birth control option for women who are certain that they wish to prevent future pregnancies — in other words, to be permanently sterilized. Some women regret their decision to have a tubal ligation later on, however, and the rule is that the younger the woman, the more likely it is that she will eventually want a reversal procedure. [2]
 
However, this operation should be considered a permanent procedure, and it isn’t recommended as a temporary or reversible one. Although tubal ligation can sometimes be reversed, this requires a major surgical procedure and a great majority of women will not be able to get pregnant again. [3]

Tubal Ligation Procedure

Although highly effective, a tubal ligation is a relatively simple operation done in a clinic, doctor's office, or hospital, and it can be performed under local or general anesthesia.

Post-Op Treatment And Recovery Time: How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Tubal Ligation?

Most surgeons will advise a patient to take 2 to 3 days off after the surgery. Some patients are concerned about how much time will have to pass until sexual activity becomes an option again. The answer is, sexual activity can start again as soon as the woman feels comfortable, usually after a week or so. 
 
Recovery time depends on:
  • A patient’s pain tolerance
  • The type of anesthesia used
  • And overall healing ability
Some patients feel slight abdominal pain and tiredness. Less often, patients may experience dizziness, nausea, shoulder pain, abdominal cramps, a gassy or bloated feeling, or general fatigue, but most or all of these symptoms usually go away within two to five days, and most women return to their usual routines a couple of days after surgery. [4]  

Non-surgical Method Of Tubal Ligation

About four or five years ago a new, non-surgical method of blocking the fallopian tubes was presented to patients. It is based on one specific form of tubal ligation which involves having a small coil placed into the fallopian tubes, thereby creating a barrier. This method takes between three and six months before this type of tubal ligation becomes effective. During this time, a woman should use other available forms of contraception. [5
 

Results And Possible Risks Of Tubal Ligation

As with any other type of surgery, there are risks involved with having one’s tubes tied, including infection and uterine perforation. Besides these possible side effects, women who have had their tubes tied and still become pregnant are more likely to experience an ectopic pregnancy, which is considered to be a life-threatening condition. Other possible risks include menstrual cycle disturbances and gynecological problems. [4]
 
Bleeding, infection or reaction to anesthetics may also occur. Other possible but very rare complications include damage to organs, including bowels, bladder, uterus, ovaries, blood vessels, and nerves. Although rare, deaths have also been reported in tubal ligation procedures, and patients should be made aware of this. [4]

Tubal Ligation Pros And Cons

Advantages of a tubal ligation include [6]:
  • Permanent birth control
  • Immediately effective
  • Allows sexual spontaneity
  • Requires no daily attention
  • Not messy
  • Cost-effective in the long run
Disadvantages of tubal ligation:
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS
  • Requires surgery
  • Tubal ligation has all the risks associated with surgery
  • More complicated than male sterilization
  • May not be reversible
  • Possible regret

Sexuality After Tubal Ligation

Effects on sexuality are an important concern for almost all patients because women are worried whether the operation will have effects on sexual intercourse. The answer is simple – women are fully able to enjoy sex after a tubal ligation. However, research found that women who have had a tubal ligation are more likely to report:
  • Stress interfering with sex
  • Seeing a physician regarding sexual problems. [7]
In the great majority of cases, hormone levels and the menstrual cycle are left unaffected by this method of sterilization, which means that the ovaries continue to release eggs, but they are stopped in the tubes and reabsorbed by the body.  

Costs Of Tubal Ligation

The initial cost of a tubal ligation can be high, ranging between $1,000 and $3,000. However, because the effects are permanent, it may be a more cost-effective solution for some women. The bottom line is, only women who are sure that they do not want any more children should consider a tubal ligation as the best possible successful means of birth control.

Tubal Ligation Procedure And Age Issues

The incidence of menstrual problems after tubal ligation may be higher in women who undergo the procedure in their 20s. The technique does sometimes impair blood flow to the ovaries and can lead to menstrual irregularities earlier than normal, which is why young women are at a higher risk. [4]  

Reversal Of Tubal Ligation

Women who are planning to have a tubal ligation done should know that, generally, this procedure is done with no intentions of being reversed. Most patients are satisfied with their permanent sterilizations. However, experts are saying that some types of the procedure can be reversed with surgery. [8] The best candidates for tubal ligation reversal are those women who have a sizable amount of tubal tissue left in place. However, tubal ligation with the use of cauterization generally leaves very few candidates for a reversal, likely none.

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