There’s no going back.
Tubal ligation (also known as female sterilization) involves removing the body's ability to release eggs into the womb with a surgical procedure. Generally speaking it is irreversible, so it is only a choice for those who never want to have children, or who don't wish to have any more.
There are surgical and non-surgical methods of sterilization. Non-surgical methods block the fallopian tubes with a small, metal device. This is placed through the vagina with a special catheter, and it works by causing scar tissue to form around it, eventually closing the tubes. This process takes around three months, so you will have to use another method of birth control in this time, but once it's done, it's done.
The surgical methods are more invasive, and are generally performed under general anesthesia so they require a longer recovery time. During the surgery the fallopian tubes are cut, sealed using an instrument with an electrical current, or closed with clamps or rings. Once done, sterilization doesn't affect libido or your ability to have sex, but it's important to consult your doctor or nurse while you make the decision. They will help you weigh the benefits, risks and any potential drawbacks, and inform you of other long-acting birth control methods such as the intrauterine system (IUS) and the copper intrauterine device (IUD), which are also highly effective.
HOW IT MEASURES UP
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Worldwide use female sterilization as birth control.
The length of time it takes for the non-surgical procedure to be effective.
The first full medical description of the procedure was provided by Von Blundell.3
- Almost 100% effective.4
- One time lasts forever – once done, no more worries about unwanted pregnancy.4
- Hormone-free – it is an option for those who cannot or do not want to use hormones.4
- Not immediately effective – you should still use birth control until your next period or three months after the surgery.4
- Can fail – although rare, it is possible and can happen immediately or years after the procedure.4
- If it fails...there may be a higher risk for the pregnancy to start outside the womb, a complication called ectopic pregnancy.4
- American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy after tubal ligation. https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/pregnancy-tubal-ligation/ [Accessed October 2022]. Return to content
- UN. https://www.un.org/development/desa/pd/sites/www.un.org.development.desa.pd/files/files/documents/2020/Jan/un_2019_contraceptiveusebymethod_databooklet.pdf [Accessed August 2022]. Return to content
- Everett S. Handbook of Contraception and Sexual Health. 2014. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Return to content
- NHS. Female sterilization. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/female-sterilisation/ [Accessed October 2022]. Return to content