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Tubal Ligation

Tubal ligation -- also known as having your tubes tied or tubal sterilization -- is a type of permanent birth control. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy.

Tubal ligation prevents an egg from traveling from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes and blocks sperm from traveling up the fallopian tubes to the egg. The procedure doesn't affect your menstrual cycle.

Tubal ligation can be done at any time, including after childbirth or in combination with another abdominal surgery, such as a C-section. Most tubal ligation procedures cannot be reversed. If reversal is attempted, it requires major surgery and isn't always effective.

What you can expect

Tubal ligation can be done:

Following a vaginal birth using a small incision under the belly button (mini-laparotomy)
During a C-section

Anytime as an outpatient procedure using a laparoscope and short-acting general anesthesia (interval tubal ligation)

Before the procedure

You may be asked to take a pregnancy test to make sure you're not pregnant.

During the procedure

If you have an interval tubal ligation as an outpatient procedure, either a needle is inserted or an incision is made through your belly button so your abdomen can be inflated with gas (carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide). Then a laparoscope is inserted into your abdomen.

In most cases, your doctor will make a second small incision to insert special instruments through the abdominal wall. Your doctor uses these instruments to seal the fallopian tubes by destroying parts of the tubes or blocking them with plastic rings or clips.

If you have a tubal ligation after vaginal childbirth, your doctor will likely make a small incision under your belly button, providing easy access to your uterus and fallopian tubes. If you have a tubal ligation during a C-section, your health care provider will use the incision that was made to deliver the baby.

After the procedure

If gas was used during tubal ligation, it will be removed when the procedure is done. You may be allowed to go home several hours after an interval tubal ligation. Having a tubal ligation immediately following childbirth doesn't usually involve a longer hospital stay.

You'll have some discomfort at the incision site. You might also have:

Abdominal pain or cramping
Gassiness or bloating
Shoulder pain

Your health care provider will discuss management of any post-procedure pain with you, before you go home from the hospital.
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