A tubal ligation is a surgical procedure which has a number of common names, e.g. Tubal, Tubal Sterilization or "Tying Ones Tubes". It is a simple surgical procedure that results in permanent contraception by blocking the fallopian tubes, either by cutting, clamping, tying or burning them. When the tubes are blocked, sperm cannot reach the egg, and pregnancy cannot happen.
Permanent contraception by tubal ligation is one of the most commonly used contraceptive methods in the United States, with 11 million U.S. women relying on this method. Approximately 700,000 tubal sterilizations are performed in the United States each year. A tubal ligation is the most popular form of contraception worldwide.
A tubal ligation is an elective procedure for the woman who has completed her childbearing and desires a permanent form of contraception, so you should have strongly considered all other forms of contraception before having a tubal ligation.
The Hysteroscopic Tubal Ligation
In the past, tubal ligations were performed through small laparoscopic incisions in the abdomen. This procedure, while effective, required hospitalization, general anesthesia, and a 2 week recovery time. The Physicians at Gulf Coast Obstetrics and Gynecology are trained to perform a hysteroscopic method of sterilization with the Essure procedure. This procedure differs from the traditional method of tubal in that there are no incisions. It can be performed under local anesthesia and recovery is usually only a few hours. Patients may return to their regular activity the very next day!
Using a soft, flexible micro-insert, these devices are delivered through the vagina and placed into each fallopian tube. Over a 3 month period, the inserts occlude the tube and prevent pregnancy. Blockage of the tube must be confirmed with a special test before you may stop other forms of birth control, but it is over 99% effective.
The Essure procedure is NOT reversible so if you are not absolutely sure about your decision, this may not be the right answer for you.
If you are interested in this procedure, speak to your physician for more information. Also, please consider reviewing our patient-doctor discussion checklist to help you understand and decide if the Essure is right for you.
How effective is a tubal ligation compared with other contraceptive options?
Tubal sterilization is considered much more effective than any of the short-term, user-dependent, reversible contraceptive methods. Data from the 1995 U.S. National Survey of Family Growth indicates that within 1 year of starting any reversible type of contraception, 90 out of 1,000 women will become pregnant. When the data was analyzed, the following results were obtained.
Does tying ones tubes affect your sex drive?
Sterilization will not affect your femininity and it is very unlikely that a tubal ligation will affect your sex organs, or your sexuality. During the procedure, no glands or organs will be removed or changed. You will continue to produce all of your hormones, just as you did before the tubal ligation. Your ovaries will continue to release eggs, but they will not come into contact with sperm, therefore, you will not get pregnant. Your menstrual cycles will most likely follow their regular pattern according to medical studies.
What If a Tubal Ligation Fails?
Unfortunately, with every form of contraception, there is the possibility that you may get pregnant, and this is also true for a tubal ligation. A tubal ligation has a very low failure rate of between 3-10 women out of 1,000. There is no 100% guarantee for any form of tubal ligation. Should you become pregnant; you will usually have a normal pregnancy, however, you have a much higher chance of having a tubal pregnancy. A tubal pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the damaged fallopian tube, rather than the uterus. In medical language, this is called an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg grows and develops [usually] within the fallopian tube. This condition often requires emergency surgery to remove the pregnancy, because the small fallopian tube cannot sustain the pregnancy and the fallopian tube may burst as the pregnancy gets larger.
Signs that you have a tubal pregnancy are pain on one or both sides of your lower abdomen; pain and spotting after a missed period; a very light period; or feeling faint or dizzy with pressure on your bowels. Should you have any of these signs after a tubal ligation, you should contact our office for an evaluation or go to the hospital emergency department as soon as possible.
While having this surgery prevents pregnancy, it does not protect you from getting sexually transmitted infections. (STD)
Are there any hormone changes after a tubal ligation?
Although researchers, the medical literature, and physicians say there aren't any hormone changes after a tubal ligation, many physicians aren't convinced that there isn't some impact on a woman's hormones after the surgery. There have been many women who note menstrual changes after having undergone a tubal ligation to be mere coincidence. These hormone changes have been called the "post-tubal-ligation syndrome."
Some researchers say that these are normal symptoms that the woman hasn't noticed before, perhaps because she was taking birth control pills that masked the symptoms. Usually, women discontinue their birth control pills after having a tubal ligation and researchers believe that women notice these new symptoms and they incorrectly attribute them to the tubal ligation. Some researchers and physicians recommend that women stop using their birth control pills well in advance of a tubal ligation, so that they are aware of what kinds of menstrual and pre-menstrual symptoms they will experience after the procedure. So at this time, the post-tubal ligation syndrome is controversial and unsolved.
One final comment: A tubal ligation is a reliable form of permanent birth control. Many women who undergo a tubal ligation often find that they are better able to relax and enjoy intercourse, secure in their form of contraception.