a doctor explaining the health risks of a tubectomy

Health Risks of a Tubectomy

A tubectomy (which is also referred to as a tubal ligation or “getting your tubes tied”) is a permanent form of birth control and a relatively common procedure for women in their child bearing years. During the process, a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked—either by cutting or tying them—which prevents her eggs from travelling from the ovaries and becoming fertilized.

While a tubectomy is actually one of the safest medical procedures performed today, it is not entirely risk-free. Complications are rare, but when they do occur, they are typically severe and will require immediate medical attention. Here is a look at some of these health risks that can occur both during and after the procedure.

During the Procedure

While the chance of complications arising during a tubectomy is relatively rare, it is an invasive procedure and therefore carries with it some surgical risks. There are several major blood vessels in the abdomen that are near the site of incision, and it is possible that these could be ruptured during the process. However, surgeons are highly trained to avoid complications like that, so this would likely only occur under the most extreme and unusual of circumstances.

Tubectomies normally require general anesthesia, and for most people this will pose no problems. However, there are certain health risks associated with it as well. Some people are allergic to the medications used in anesthesia, but this is a problem that should be addressed by your anesthesiologist long before you undergo your procedure. Additionally, smokers, people with diabetes, and people with heart problems are at a higher risk for anesthesia complications as well. The most common complication is difficulty breathing while under the influence of anesthesia, but in severe cases death is possible as well.

Finally, infection or uncontrolled bleeding is a potential risk at the surgical site. However, with proper aftercare these risks are still relatively mild. You should let your surgeon know if you’re on any medications that prevent your blood from clotting properly just to be safe, though.

After the Procedure

As with the health risks during surgery, the risks after your tubectomy are relatively uncommon. The most common problems experienced post-tubectomy are slight swelling and pain near the area of incision. However, these should diminish quickly under normal circumstances.

There is about a .05% chance that women will become pregnant after undergoing a tubectomy, but when it does occur, there is a much higher risk that it will be ectopic. During a normal pregnancy, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus, but during an ectopic pregnancy the egg attaches itself somewhere else—normally in the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancies must always be terminated, since the fetus will not be able to develop normally and will put the mother at risk for deadly, uncontrolled bleeding. A woman’s risk for an ectopic pregnancy after a tubectomy increases as time passes. Despite this, their actual occurrence is still overwhelmingly rare. 

Last Updated: June 09, 2015