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"Sterilization" it is a word that you may use for your dog or cat. Yet, it is also exactly what many women do to permanently prevent pregnancy.

Tubal ligations are often carried out immediately following a cesarean section to make the procedure less invasive. Those women who are not pregnant or not going to have a c-section can also choose to have the operation done through laparoscopy. 

What is a tubal ligation?

A tubal ligation is a popular method of permanent birth control for women. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it is the most popular form of birth control world wide! A tubal ligation (or tubal sterilization) may be a popular way to prevent pregnancy, but it is also a huge step to take on an individual level. Once you have been through the procedure, there should not be a way back and you will not be able to get pregnant naturally at any point in the future. There are various ways to complete a tubal ligation.

The most recently added were Essure and Adiana, which are very similar methods that both involve inserting small implants into the fallopian tubes to prevent egg and sperm from meeting. Essure and Adiana both require only minor procedures to put them in place. More traditional surgical methods of tubal ligation also come in variations. The basic feature of a tubal sterilization is an action that prevents eggs from reaching the uterus through the fallopian tubes, and that prevents sperm from reaching any point at which they could meet with an egg. You have probably heard that the fallopian tubes are cut and tied, and that is indeed the most common procedure. The fallopian tubes can also be sealed shut with bands or clips, or even with an electric current! All these options will serve as permanent contraception if the operation is successful.

And what is laparoscopy?

Large numbers of women would love to permanently prevent pregnancy once their family is complete. Many take advantage of the need for a cesarean section, and plan a tubal ligation right after the c-section. (Your medical team is very likely to ask you if you'd like your tubes tied if you happen to need a c-section) Those women who are not going to have a c-section (because they aren't pregnant, for instance) may feel reluctant to have a tubal ligation because it is an operation that is more invasive than the male vasectomy. Laparoscopy may be the answer for you. Laparoscopic sterilization surgery eliminates the need for large incisions, and works with just two small cuts in the outer abdomen, below the belly button and close to your pubic hair.

A viewing instrument called a laparoscope (hence laparoscopy!) enables the medical team to see what they are doing. Your abdominal cavity will also be filled with air or gas to give the team easier access. Laparoscopic tubal ligation still requires general anesthesia, like its more traditional counterpart. The major advantages are that the recovery time is quicker, the rate of complications is lower, and you are usually able to go home on the same day. The scars that are left will also be significantly smaller, which is important to most women. To qualify for sterilization by laparoscopy, you will need to have a healthy body weight and to be in good health. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) excludes a woman from undergoing a laparoscopic tubal ligation, and women who have recently given birth are not candidates either.

Deciding to have a tubal ligation

A tubal ligation represents a very big decision, as the operation (if successful) will prevent you from ever getting pregnant again. The decision to have a tubal ligation should be a process rather than a single event. No woman should choose to have a tubal sterilization during periods of stress, right after she had a baby (unless this baby was already planned to be the last), during marital difficulties, or after divorce. The decision to have a tubal ligation should ideally be taken together with your partner, but it's also important not to be pressured into a tubal ligation you don't want by your partner. If he wants to prevent pregnancy and you are not willing to have an operation, discuss vasectomy instead, or talk about less permanent forms of contraception if you think you may like to have another baby in the future.

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