Female sterilization, also known as ‘tubal ligation’ or ‘having your tubes tied’, is a form of female contraception that works via a one time process in which the fallopian tubes are either cut or tied – or sometimes blocked via the use of ‘essure’ which are spring like coils inserted via the vagina. In other cases the tubes may be cut, burned or clipped in order to seal them. This then prevents the egg from travelling to the uterus from the ovary, and also blocks sperm from reaching the fallopian tube where it would normally fertilise the egg. For this reason it is often used by women as a form of contraception with long-term partners, essentially as the female equivalent of a vasectomy (and similar to this procedure, tubal ligation will not protect against sexually transmitted infections such as AIDS.)
Of course this sounds fairly invasive and uncomfortable and as it is such a private and delicate procedure it can be a cause for concern for many women. However tubal ligation is generally regarded a fairly simple out patient procedure and can be performed in a doctor’s office even. Generally it is under either local or general anaesthesia at the request of the patient and the advice of the clinician. While you can expect to experience some discomfort this should subside after a short period of rest and you should be able to return to work within 2 to 3 days and resume sexual after about a week.
There are however some risks associated with the procedure though they are generally rare. For example, though unlikely, there is a slightly higher possibility of ectopic pregnancy (while this is always possible there is an elevated chance after tubal ligation). Here a pregnancy takes place outside of the womb and this is a highly dangerous condition which requires immediate attention.
Some other potential side effects may be abnormal bleeding or bladder infections, though these are un-common. There are also obviously risks involved with any kind of surgery.
More common is disruption with the menstrual cycle which manifests itself as mid-cycle bleeding, lack of periods, more painful periods and similar conditions. This has been referred to as ‘post-tubal sterilisation syndrome’ suggesting a strong link between the effects and the condition. However many researchers claim that there is insufficient evidence to support its existence.
Finally, tubal ligation should only be considered as a permanent form of birth control, with reversal procedures only sporadically effective. It should only be used then in scenarios where the individual is certain that they will not want children.