Tubal Sterilization

Tubal sterilization is the only permanent birth control method available to women.

WHAT IS IT?
Tubal sterilization is the only permanent birth control method available to women. It is a surgical procedure, requiring at least local anesthesia and occasionally a hospital stay.
The procedure can be done vaginally or abdominally and involves tying, cutting, sealing, or clipping the Fallopian tubes. The Fallopian tubes are the structures that connect the ovaries and the uterus – when an egg is released from the ovary, it travels through the Fallopian tubes toward the uterus. If the egg cannot get through the Fallopian tubes into the uterus, it will dissolve and be reabsorbed by the body.

Tubal sterilization is not the same as hysterectomy, which is a removal of a woman’s reproductive organs – usually the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and uterus. Tubal sterilization will not induce menopause. A woman who has been sterilized will still have periods and her body will continue to produce female hormones.

WHERE CAN I GET IT?
Because tubal sterilization is a surgical procedure, a doctor or surgeon must perform it. Some reproductive health clinics offer sterilization services. A woman who is interested in being sterilized should speak with her health care provider.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS?
The sterilization procedure itself is considered to be low-risk. A woman considering tubal sterilization should thoroughly discuss all her concerns with her health care provider. Possible complications include:

o Bleeding
o Infection at incision site
o Complications related to anesthesia.

After a woman has a tubal sterilization, her risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (when an egg is fertilized but implants somewhere other than the uterus, often in the Fallopian tubes) goes up somewhat. Signs of ectopic pregnancy include:

o Severe pain in the lower abdomen
o Spotting, especially after a light or missed period
o Dizziness and feelings of faintness
If a woman has any of these symptoms, she should seek medical attention immediately.

HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
Tubal sterilization is well over 99% effective in the prevention of pregnancy. The operation does not provide any protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections or HIV.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE METHOD?
Advantages:
o Tubal sterilization is permanent – a woman who uses this method will never have to use another method of pregnancy prevention
o Many women find that sex is more enjoyable when they can be free of the worry of pregnancy
o No hormone use required
o No need to interrupt sex to use birth control

Disadvantages:
o Tubal sterilization is permanent – reversal is not always possible and is very costly
o The initial cost is high
o Tubal sterilization is a surgical procedure and may require a woman to take time off from her regular activities, including work and sexual intercourse
o More expensive and more invasive than male sterilization (vasectomy)

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Depending on the type of procedure, tubal sterilization usually costs $1000-$2500. If a woman has a sterilization procedure that requires hospitalization, the cost will be higher. Some insurance companies will pay for all or part of the procedure.