Tubal ligation is a surgical method of sterilization for women. The fallopian tubes are blocked or severed to prevent fertilized eggs from traveling down the tubes into the uterus. While tubal ligation is typically performed laparoscopically, with tiny abdominal incisions rather than a large open surgical area, it is still considered major surgery, taking place in a hospital or similar setting with spinal anesthesia. Conversely, male sterilization (vasectomy) is a minor surgery that can be completed quickly with no hospital stay required.
There are various methods for tubal ligation. The sections of the fallopian tube may be cauterized, clamped or totally removed. Small metal devices may also be placed inside the tubes to promote the formation of scar tissue, a natural barrier. Some women choose to have tubal ligation performed immediately following the delivery of their baby via cesarean section. This can cut down on costs and later recovery time. Although tubal ligation is considered permanent, there has been some success in reversing the procedure by repairing one or both fallopian tubes.
In the first year after the procedure, tubal ligation has been found to be 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Over time, the tubes may regenerate, resulting in an unintended pregnancy. A portion of these pregnancies may be ectopic, a condition in which the fertilized egg implants in the tube rather than the uterus. This is uncommon, but regular checkups with a gynecologist can monitor the healing process to ensure the passageways are not restored.