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Tubal Ligation

If you’re considering permanent birth control, talk to the women’s health team at Helena Regional Medical Center. OB/GYN specialists on staff can offer a procedure called tubal ligation, also known as “having your tubes tied.”

Tubal ligation is one of the most commonly used surgical sterilization options for women. It may be a good choice if you know for sure that you’re finished having children, aren’t interested in having any, or have health risks associated with pregnancy. 

Because the procedure is difficult or sometimes impossible to reverse, it’s important to discuss the benefits and risks with a professional.

About the Procedure

During a tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or permanently blocked. It works by preventing an egg from traveling from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes and by blocking sperm from travelling up to the fallopian tubes to the egg.

Most women choose to have the procedure after their baby’s birth. It can be done immediately after a cesarean (C-Section) via the same incision that was used to deliver the baby. As an outpatient procedure or after a vaginal delivery, a laparoscope is used through a small incision in the abdomen, under the belly button.

Having a tubal ligation immediately following childbirth does not usually impact your hospital stay.  You may have some discomfort at the incision site. Your doctor will discuss post-procedure pain management before you leave the hospital.

Is Tubal Ligation Right for Me?

Getting your tubes tied is one of the most popular forms of permanent birth control, but also a very personal choice that requires serious consideration. Factors to consider include:

Benefits

  • Permanent: Though there are forms of long-lasting birth control, such as implants and intrauterine devices (IUD), tubal ligation is the only permanent option.
  • Highly effective: Outside of abstinence, tube ligation is one of the most effective birth control options available. Fewer than 1% of women become pregnant in the first year after the procedure. The older you are at the time of the procedure, the more successful it will be.   
  • Does not affect hormones: Unlike birth control methods like the pill, the procedure doesn’t change your levels of estrogen and progesterone. You will still get your period, and it won’t impact your mood or sex drive.
  • Helps guard against certain conditions: Protects women who may have serious health risks with conception, and may also decrease the risk of ovarian cancer, especially if the fallopian tubes are removed.

Disadvantages

  • Does not guard against STDs: While tubal ligation removes the need for birth control, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
  • Some risks: While the procedure is generally very safe with rare complications, it’s still surgery. Also, there’s a higher risk for ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilized egg is implanted outside of the uterus usually attaching to the fallopian tube.  It requires immediate medical attention.
  • Difficult to reverse: Although tubal ligation is technically reversible, the procedure is complicated and results are not guaranteed. Some success has been possible through IVF (in-vitro fertilization) but it is very expensive and complex.

Before deciding on tubal ligation, it is important to carefully consider your future and the future of your family.  During your visit, a specialist will provide all the information and support you need to make the best decision for your life. There are also many semi-permanent birth-control options available we can explore together.

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