What is tubal ligation?

What is Tubal Ligation?

Simply put, tubal ligation is a surgical procedure in which a woman’s fallopian tubes are cut, tied, or blocked. This process is also known as getting your “tubes tied” or tubal sterilization, since it is a type of permanent birth control that will prevent pregnancy indefinitely. Even though it is possible to reverse a tubal ligation procedure, this requires a major surgery and cannot be guaranteed to be effective.

How does it work?

Tubal ligation works to disrupt fertilization by stopping the movement of your eggs to the uterus and blocking sperm from traveling through the fallopian tubes. However, this procedure should not affect your menstrual cycle.

Tubal ligation used to be a major abdominal surgery, but now it is much less invasive. Many women will have it done during a C-section delivery, or in the following days after vaginally delivering their child. Otherwise, you must wait six weeks after birth to have the procedure performed.

The actual procedure will typically last about thirty minutes and requires an anesthetic to be given. Using a laparoscope, the surgeon will either cauterize the tubes, cut and stitch them closed, or use an elastic band or metal clip to pinch them shut. Since it is such a minor procedure, you will usually be able to function normally after about a day of recovery.

A tubal ligation will generally cost between $1,500 and $6,000, but most insurance companies will cover at least part of your expenses. 

Why do it?

Tubal ligation may be performed for a number of different reasons. However, it is most commonly done for women who have decided that they don’t want to have any more children. Another reason some women might get a tubal ligation is to decrease their risk for ovarian cancer. One recent study found that the procedure reduced the risk for this condition by more than 30 percent.

What are the risks?

There are some risks that are associated with tubal ligation. These include:

  • Adverse reaction to the anesthesia
  • Prolonged pain in the pelvis or abdomen
  • Damage to the bladder, bowel, or major blood vessels
  • Improper healing of the wound and/or infection

If you have previously had surgery involving the abdomen and pelvis or have a history of diabetes or obesity, you are at a higher risk of complications during this procedure. Also, the younger you are when the procedure is performed, the more likely the sterilization is to fail. If you do get pregnant after you have a tubal ligation, there is an increased chance that it will be an ectopic pregnancy, meaning that the egg has implanted itself outside of the uterus. Since there is no way to correct this problem, the only option is termination of pregnancy.

Can it be reversed?

It is possible for tubal ligation to be reversed. However, you cannot count on this when deciding to have the procedure. The reversal procedure would be much more expensive and is much more invasive than the original procedure, and insurance companies will typically not cover them. Even if the reversal is successful, only twenty to forty percent of women will be able to conceive, and the risk of ectopic pregnancy is still significantly increased. 

How much does it cost?

Tubal ligation can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000, but most insurance companies will cover at least part of the procedure. However, there will often be guidelines for eligibility, such as a waiting period to make sure you are positive about the surgery. This has a lot to do with the permanence of the procedure. 


Last Updated: June 09, 2015