Should You Have Your Tubes Tied?

What does it mean to get your “tubes tied”?

Having a tubal ligation (known as getting your tubes tied) is a minimally invasive procedure where a doctor makes three 5cm incisions in your abdomen and, guided by a camera, cuts, bands, or clamps your fallopian tubes so that sperm can’t make contact with your eggs, says Dr Raquel Dardik, an doctor at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City. This is a popular method of birth control for many women, particularly those who have finished having children.

What are the benefits of getting your tubes tied?

According to WedMD, the benefits of having a tubal ligation include:

  • You don’t have to think about birth control ever again, since it’s permanent.
  • It’s a highly effective method of birth control.
  • Human error isn’t a factor like it is with the Pill or a condom.
  • The procedure does not interrupt or affect female hormones.

RELATED: How It Feels to Have Your Tubes Tied

What are the risks?

Dr. Dardik points out that as with any surgery there are inherent risks involved: “the risk of anesthesia, the risk of bleeding, the risk of infection, and the risk of damage to adjacent organs.” She also points out that you may need an additional procedure if your fallopian tubes are not fully and properly sealed the first time around.

Who should consider having a tubal ligation?

Since tubal ligation is a permanent form of sterilisation for women, you should only consider the procedure if you are certain you do not want any more (or any) children.

How effective is it at preventing pregnancy?

Following a tubal ligation, fewer than 5 women in 1,000 get pregnant the first year, and maybe 2 women in 100 will get pregnant over 10 years, according to stats published on WedMD — meaning that tubal ligation has less than a 1 percent failure rate. On the other hand, couples who use the Pill with no human error will experience less than a 9 percent failure rate, and couples who use condoms will experience an 18 percent failure rate, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive issues, policy, and rights globally.

Will a tubal ligation cause menopause?

“No,” says Dr. Dardik. Additionally, there is growing evidence that it protects against ovarian cancer, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine (NCBI).

How long does it take to recover from having your tubes tied?

The recovery time can vary but generally it takes about one to two weeks. The Mayo Clinic suggests that women avoid sex and strenuous lifting, but as soon as you begin to feel better you can return to your normal routine.

Can a tubal ligation be reversed?

Yes, a tubal ligation can be reversed, says Dr. Dardik. However, the procedure is not that successful; in fact, WebMD cites pregnancy success rates varying between 40 and 85 percent depending on the patient’s age, how much of the fallopian tube is intact after the original tubal ligation surgery, and other health factors.

Tubal ligation can be a brilliant birth control solution for many women, but not before considering things like how many children you want to have, your general health, medical costs, and recovery time. Talk to your doctor to see if this option is right for you.

Image: Getty