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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, but a tubal ligation also prevents sperm from traveling along the tube to meet the egg. 

Women should be aware of one important fact — tubal ligation is 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 potential complications that could occur during and after the tubal ligation operation. Although tubal ligation is an effective way of preventing pregnancy, tubal ligation does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Safety measures (use of condoms) is still necessary if you enjoy a high-risk sexual life or having sexual intercourse 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 apparently 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 confident that they wish to prevent future pregnancies — in other words — hope for a permanent sterilization. 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, women should see this operation as a permanent procedure, and medical professionals should not recommend it as a temporary or reversible one. Although doctors can sometimes reverse tubal ligation, reversal requires a major surgical procedure, and a vast majority of women will not be able to get pregnant again. [3]

Tubal Ligation Procedure

Although highly efficient, a tubal ligation is a relatively simple operation done in a clinic, doctor's office, or hospital, and surgeon performs it either 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. Doctors base this type of procedure on a particular 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 active. 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, medical literature has also reported deaths as a result of 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 active
  • 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, the research found that women who have had a tubal ligation are more likely to report:
  • stress interfering with sex
  • seeing a physician about sexual problems. [7]
In the vast 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 surgeon performs this procedure with no intentions of reversing the sterilization. Most patients are satisfied with their permanent sterilizations. However, experts are saying that some types of the process doctors can reverse 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, in the vast majority of cases, the use of cauterization during the process leaves very few candidates for a tubal ligation reversal, likely none. 
Keep in mind that you need to call your doctor immediately if you have had tubal ligation and you have following symptoms:
  • You think you are pregnant because you missed your period or you have tender breasts or you feel nauseous.
  • You feel pain on one side of your lower abdomen and the pain is accompanied with faintness or dizziness.