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Female sterilization or “tying the tubes” is a surgical procedure that prevents a woman from becoming pregnant. It is performed by a physician usually in an outpatient setting (same day surgery). It is permanent and should be sought only if a woman wants no further children.
How Does It Work?
Female sterilization blocks the woman’s fallopian tube so that eggs cannot pass from the ovaries to the uterus to become fertilized. The tubes are blocked by one of a variety of techniques: cutting, burning, banding or implants (Essure®). The surgery is usually performed through a laparoscope (telescope like instrument) through two small incisions (button holes) in the woman’s lower abdomen. The Essure® implants are inserted into the tubes through the vagina and cervix using a hysteroscope, so there is no cutting. Frequently, Essure® can be inserted in a physician’s office.
Though considered permanent, about 1 out of every 100 women that have undergone sterilization become pregnant each year. Tubal ligation is effective immediately. Essure® requires 12 weeks to become effective.
Female sterilization allows the woman to control her fertility. It is dependable since she does not have to remember to take anything. In addition, female sterilization does not interfere with love making or with sexual pleasure.
In the long run, it is cheaper than many forms of birth control since it is performed only one time.
The main disadvantage to female sterilization is the upfront cost of the surgery. However, this can be cheaper than purchasing other forms of birth control every month for many years.
Rarely the tubes may reconnect requiring the surgery to be repeated if the woman desires continued sterilization.
Other disadvantages are swelling, bleeding and tenderness immediately after surgery. Rarely there can be injury to the bladder, blood vessels or intestines during the surgery.
After recovery from the surgery, there are no side effects to female sterilization.
Women who may want children in the future should not seek sterilization.