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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Female Sterilization: Tubal Ligation

Tubal ligation is a surgical method used to permanently prevent pregnancy in women. The fallopian tubes are divided, sutured, clipped with "Falope Rings," or sealed with electrical cautery to prevent sperm from reaching and fertilizing eggs.

Tubal ligation usually requires general anesthesia and is performed as an outpatient procedure in an operating room. This surgical procedure usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes, followed by a short stay in the recovery room before you can go home. It's possible to return to work and resume normal activities within a few days of the procedure.

This method is extremely effective; the likelihood of pregnancy is less than 0.5% after the procedure.

Advantages

  • There are no concerns about remembering to use birth control.
  • Sexual relations can be spontaneous and worry-free.
  • Normal female hormone levels and menstrual cycles continue as usual but without the worry of pregnancy.

Disadvantages

  • Tubal ligation is considered to be permanent, although reversal is sometimes attempted. .
  • It is important to be sure of your decision to have a tubal ligation before the surgery is performed. If the decision is made with ambivalence, doubt, haste or under pressure, you may have feelings of regret leading to depression or attempts to have the procedure reversed.
  • The length and function of fallopian tubes cannot be easily restored after a tubal-ligation procedure.
  • Fertility returns to a varying degree after reversal, depending on the type of sterilization procedure and length of remaining sections of the fallopian tubes. General estimates for successful pregnancy after reversal range between 30% and 88%.
  • Tubal ligation provides no protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Women at risk of STDs need to use latex condoms.

Last updated September 17, 2010




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