Tubal ligation glossary

Tubal Ligation: 10 Terms to Know

Tubal ligation is a procedure that surgically blocks, cuts, or ties a woman’s fallopian tubes to prevent her from ever getting pregnant again. If you are considering this procedure, here are some terms that you might want to be familiar with. 

  1. Female sterilization: This term refers to a procedure that is performed as a permanent method of birth control. There are several that fall under this category, but tubal ligation is the most commonly performed.
  2. Fallopian tubes: Found in all female mammals, the fallopian tubes are a pair of tubes along which the eggs travel from the ovaries to the uterus. In a tubal ligation procedure, the fallopian tubes must be blocked in some way to prevent the egg from being fertilized by the sperm.
  3. Fertilization: This occurs when a sperm is able to make contact with an egg. The purpose of tubal ligation is to prevent fertilization. 
  4. Ectopic pregnancy: In rare cases, fertilization is able to still occur even after a tubal ligation procedure. If this happens, it is likely to be an ectopic pregnancy, meaning that the egg has been fertilized outside of the uterus. Since there is no way to correct this problem, the only option is to terminate the pregnancy.
  5. Contraception: This is another word for birth control. After having a tubal ligation procedure, no other forms of contraception are needed to prevent pregnancy.
  6. Hysteroscopic sterilization: This is a procedure that can be an alternative to a tubal ligation. Instead of surgically closing the fallopian tubes, a small device is inserted into them through the cervix, which will cause scar tissue seal off the tubes.
  7. Postpartum: It is common to have a tubal ligation procedure postpartum, or shortly after having a child. At this point, the uterus is still enlarged and the fallopian tubes are higher in the abdomen, so they are easier to access. The procedure is often done within 24 to 36 hours after the baby is delivered.
  8. Outpatient procedure: Most tubal ligations are fairly simple procedures that can be performed in roughly half an hour. The recovery time is less than a day, so patients are generally able to go home immediately, making it an outpatient procedure. 
  9. Laparoscopy: There are different methods of tubal ligation that doctors can choose from. A laparoscopy is performed by inserting a viewing instrument and surgical tools through two small incisions in the abdomen. This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia.
  10. Laparotomy: This is another option for tubal ligation that is a little more invasive since it requires a larger incision in the abdomen. This is a better option if a patient is having a C-section or if she has a condition that might put her at a higher risk for complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or a previous abdominal or pelvic injury. This procedure can be performed with either general anesthesia or an epidural. 
Last Updated: June 09, 2015