Tubal ligation is commonly referred to as “having your tubes tied.” It’s a surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are cut, sealed or pinched shut. The procedure stops eggs from traveling from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes, where the egg is normally fertilized by a sperm. Simply put, it’s a type of permanent birth control.
Tubal ligation can be performed while recovering from vaginal childbirth or during a C-section delivery. It can also be done as an outpatient procedure separate from childbirth.
A tubal ligation can be done in several ways. One way is a laparoscopy, which involves inserting a viewing instrument and surgical tools through small incisions made in the abdomen.
A laparotomy may be recommended in cases such as a Cesarean section or pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis or previous abdominal or pelvic surgery. These conditions often cause scarring or sticking together of tissue and organs in the abdomen. Scarring or adhesions can make the other types of tubal ligation more risky.
Another method is as a mini-laparotomy. This is often done within 24 to 36 hours after giving birth. The fallopian tubes are higher in the abdomen right after pregnancy, so the incision is made below the navel.
The procedure is generally done by a gynecologist, a medical doctor or general surgeon. The risks of surgery are greater if a woman has diabetes, is overweight, smokes, or has a heart condition.
Reversing a tubal ligation is possible, but it requires major surgery and isn't always effective.
Pregnancy may occur if the tubes grow back together or a new passage forms that allows an egg to be fertilized by sperm. If this happens, there is an increased risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the baby starts to develop outside the womb. Ectopic pregnancies can happen years after the surgery and are most likely three or more years after the procedure.
Tubal ligation does not change your menstrual cycle. You will still ovulate each month and have menstrual periods. You will go through menopause at the same time that you would have if you had not had the surgery.