In our previous article, we came across using IUD – Intra Uterine Device as one of the effective and easier birth control options. In this article, let us look at another birth control method called Tubal Ligation which is a surgical procedure that helps in preventing pregnancy. No external/foreign body is placed inside your body in this procedure. Tubal ligation can help you avoid pregnancy but it doesn’t stop you from contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections. So, when you are having sex with an unfamiliar/new partner, you should practice safe sex to prevent unwanted STDs.
What is Tubal Ligation?
Tubal Ligation refers to ‘Tying up/banding/disconnecting’ the ‘Fallopian Tubes’. You can look at the anatomy of the female reproductive system in the picture to the right (or below). The ovaries produce egg during the middle of the menstrual cycle. The egg is then released into the uterus. The egg passes through the fallopian tubes and enters the uterus. It then waits for a period of 24 hours for a sperm to fertilize. If the fallopian tubes are blocked or disconnected, the egg released by the ovaries will not be able to reach the uterus and meet the sperm, thus preventing pregnancy.
After the procedure, you will still have your monthly periods and can have unprotected sex with your trusted partner.
Who are the best candidates to undergo Tubal Ligation procedure?
- If you are an adult and single woman, who do not want any(more) children
- If you and your partner have decided not to have any(more) children in future
- If pregnancy poses other health risks to you
- If you or your male partner have genital issues and if you do not want to pass them on to your offspring.
Tubal ligation is kind of an irreversible procedure*. Tubal ligation can be reversed by a procedure called ‘Tubal Recanalization’ but the success rate of reconnecting the tubes is very low. The odds of getting pregnant after tubal recanalization are below 30%. So, if you have any remote thoughts of getting pregnant anytime in the future, tubal ligation procedure is NOT for you.
Who should NOT go for tubal ligation procedure?
- If you are single woman and expecting to pair up with a male partner in future. Once you are in a relationship, your opinion and future plans may change, practically speaking.
- If you are in a relationship and if you are keeping the option of getting pregnant in future.
If you have any plans of getting pregnant in the future and still want to enjoy sex without any barriers, there are other options such as:
You may consider one of these two options and still prevent yourself from getting pregnant.
Risks associated with Tubal Ligation procedure
As with any surgery, tubal ligation too has some risks associated with it. It is always advisable to get the procedure done by an experienced gynecologist so that you don’t have to worry much about post operative care or problems. Some risks associated with tubal ligation procedure:
- Possibility of infection
- Bleeding from the incision site or internally
- Damage or scarring of other organs during the procedure
- Ectopic pregnancy – This happens when the fertilization of the egg happens outside the uterus.
- Possibility of getting pregnant.
Typically, tubal ligation procedure is performed immediately after the periods are over. This ensures that the egg is still not released by the ovaries. In case if it is done at a later time, there are chances that the egg is already released and inside the uterus before the procedure is performed. In such cases, you can still get pregnant after the procedure. Your gynecologist will guide you the time when this can be done and will also explain any possible risks associated with the procedure.
How is the tubal ligation procedure performed?
Most of the experienced gynecologists today perform the tubal ligation procedure using a laparoscope. Laparoscopic tubal ligation procedure reduces the size of incisions done on the abdomen, lower blood loss, quick recovery, less chances of infection and relatively shorter operating time. Following are the steps to perform tubal ligation:
- You will be put under general anesthesia or local anesthesia. If you are given general anesthesia, you will be asleep during the procedure. In either case, you should not feel any pain.
- Small incisions will be made beside the belly button and in some cases an incision may be made below the belly button on the abdomen.
- Gas will be pumped into the abdomen area to inflate it so that the surgeon gets more room inside the body to operate.
- A laparoscope (a thin tube with light and camera) will be inserted through the incision.
- Another thin tube like instrument will also be inserted into the abdomen using which the fallopian tubes will be located.
- Once the fallopian tubes are located, they will be disconnected and sealed, or banded or blocked.
- The incisions made will be small; they require only a couple of stitches once the procedure is over.
- You will be put under observation for a couple of hours at the clinic or hospital. You will be sent home once the doctor feels that you are ok and can leave.
Post operative care after tubal ligation procedure
- You can have sex after one week after the procedure. Talk to your gynecologist about the same.
- You will need to pay a visit to your doctor to get the stitches removed.
- Don’t put stress on your abdomen (by lifting weights etc)
- You will be allowed to go home the same day but little discomfort is normal.
- You may experience shoulder pain because of the gas that was filled before the surgery. This is pretty normal. Talk to your doctor if the pain persists or if you see any bleeding from the sutured area.
- Rest for a couple of days and after that you can resume your normal diet and work
- If you have any fever, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, contact your gynecologist immediately.