Tubal Ligation (a “tubal”) is an operation to perform permanent sterilization on a woman. The fallopian tubes allow the sperm and egg to meet, and this is where conception occurs. When the tubes are “tied” a small piece of each tube is surgically removed. The other internal female organs (uterus, cervix and ovaries) are not involved in the procedure, so there should not be any changes in sensation or function of any female organs after a tubal ligation has been performed.
Tubal Ligation can be done at the same time as a Cesarean Section or it can be done shortly after vaginal birth, referred to as a postpartum tubal ligation. When done at the time of a C/S, there is very little additional risk, additional pain or change in the post-operative recovery. It also adds only a few minutes to the overall length of the operation.
As a postpartum procedure, it is performed about an hour after the delivery; however, emergencies in the Labor and Delivery Unit take precedence, and there is a chance that the tubal may be delayed or cancelled. A small incision is made just below the belly button, and the procedure usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes. Discomfort is moderate initially, but is minimal by the second postpartum day making this form of sterilization a very appealing option.
Tubal ligation is considered permanent and not reversible. Although the tubes can be surgically reconnected, the operation to do so involves microsurgery, is time-consuming, very expensive, and often doesn’t work. Many women turn to in-vitro fertilization to attempt conception if they later decide to have another baby. Thus, it is important to be 110 percent sure before having a tubal ligation done. In other words, ‘maybe’ means ‘no’.