Permanent Birth Control: Tubal Sterilization

Expert physicians at Gainesville's All About Women discuss tubal sterilization, a permanent birth control option for women.

For many women, there comes a point in life where they recognize that their families are complete and that they're ready for a permanent birth control method. Either a woman or her male partner can undergo the process of sterilization that leads to permanent, irreversible birth control. For women, the main mode of sterilization is to sever a woman's fallopian tubes, either through a surgical tubal ligation ("getting your tubes tied") or through a non-surgical hysteroscopic sterilization.

We'll explore both of these options, comparing and contrasting their approaches.

Similarities

  • Both hysteroscopic ligations and tubal ligations work by severing a woman's fallopian tubes. During conception, the man's semen swims through the fallopian tubes to reach a woman's eggs. When this pathway is severed, the semen is no longer able to reach the egg and conception can no longer occur.

    Tubal ligations sever the fallopian tube either by cutting, tying, or sealing them. Hysteroscopic ligations, on the other hand, uses nickel-titanium coils that are inserted into the fallopian tubes. Scar tissue grows around these coils and block the fallopian pathway. The brand name for hysteroscopic ligation is called Essure.

  • Both Essure and tubal ligations are non-hormonal forms of birth control. That means that they shouldn't affect aspects of your health like hair growth, breast size, muscle tone, and the onset of menopause. Most women who have had a tubal ligation or Essure have normal periods following the procedure.

  • These types of birth control are nearly 100% effective. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, less than 1 in 100 women who have received either a tubal or hysteroscopic ligation will become pregnant in the first year after the procedure.

  • Tubal sterilizations are NOT reversible. While occasionally a sterilization procedure can be reversed, this is not possible for most women. Women who choose a sterilization procedure must be absolutely sure that they won't want children in the future.

    If a woman thinks there is even a possibility that she might want children later on but doesn't want to get pregnant now, there are other long term, highly effective forms of birth control to choose from, including IUDs and implants.

  • Tubal Sterilizations Don't Protect you from STIs. While tubal ligations and Essure are highly effective forms of birth control, they do not protect women from sexually transmitted infections. You must use a barrier method of birth control if you're concerned about STIs.

About Essure

The Essure procedure is non-surgical and can be preformed in your doctor's office. During the procedure, your doctor may numb your cervix with a local anesthesia. Your doctor will then use a hysteroscope, which is a small tube-like instrument, to move the inserts through the cervix and into the tubes. The inserts cause natural scar tissue to grow, blocking the fallopian tubes.

Essure inserts are made out of a nickel-titanium alloy. If you think you might have an allergy to nickel, you should undergo testing before having the Essure procedure.

The positives of Essure are that the procedure doesn't require an incision and recovery is a little faster than a surgical ligation. Some women resume normal activity the same day as the procedure, while other women may take a day to recover.

Essure is not immediately effective - it takes about three months for it to take effect, but in some cases it can take up to six. During this time period, a woman must use another form of birth control to prevent pregnancy. After three months, you must undergo a confirmation test to ensure that Essure has thoroughly blocked your tubes.

Essure is a newer procedure that was approved by the FDA in 2002.

About Tubal Ligations

During a tubal ligation (also called surgical sterilization or "getting your tubes tied") your doctor cuts, ties or seals the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. Tubal ligations are effective immediately after the surgery. Women may feel better a couple of days after a tubal ligation, but should avoid heavy lifting for a week after the procedure.

Tubal ligation surgery is performed using laparoscopy.

During laparoscopy, you receive general anesthesia. Your abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide to allow your doctor to clearly see your organs. The doctor then makes a small cut near your navel to insert a laparoscope.

A laparoscope is a small, rod like instrument that has a light and a viewing lens. The laparoscope is used to locate the fallopian tubes, which are then closed by cutting, tying, or sealing them. Laparoscopic litigations are outpatient procedures that take about 20 to 30 minutes.

Permanent birth control is an important decision. You should talk with your healthcare provider in depth before choosing sterilization to make sure it's the best option for your situation. Your OB/GYN physician can help you decide if surgical or non-surgical sterilization is the best option for you.

The doctors and midwives at All About Women are able to offer several options for permanent birth control to women in Gainesville, Lake City and surrounding communities.

Regardless of which type of birth control you choose, we're here to provide competent and compassionate healthcare. If you're interested in permanent birth control or long-term birth control like an IUD, call our Gainesville or Lake City office to schedule an appointment today, or continue browsing our knowledge center and blog for more.