Tubal Ligation (sterilisation)

  • Over 99.5 % Effective
  • No STI Protection
  • Forever

What is a tubal ligation (sterilisation)?

Tubal ligation is a minor surgical procedure which blocks the two fallopian tubes with small clips. Fallopian tubes are the pathway for the egg to enter the uterus. This method of contraception is sometimes also called sterilisation or “having your tubes tied”.

Illustration of tubal ligation

General anaesthetic: a medicine used to make you unconscious. This is usually applied during surgery so you are not aware and unable to feel the pain.  

What happens when I have a tubal ligation?

A small incision (cut) is made in the skin around the belly button or lower abdomen and keyhole surgery (known as laparoscopy) is used to place clips on the fallopian tubes or remove the fallopian tubes. Your gynaecologist will discuss keyhole surgery with you.

You will need a general anaesthetic. You can usually go home the same day, but sometimes have to stay in hospital over night.

How effective is tubal ligation?

Tubal ligation is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is considered to last forever (permanent).

How does a tubal ligation work?

For pregnancy to occur, sperm must fertilise a mature egg. During each menstrual cycle a mature egg is released from one of the ovaries, this is called ovulation. The released egg is funnelled into the fallopian tube and towards the uterus. Tubal ligation blocks the fallopian tubes, stopping the egg from moving through the fallopian tube to the uterus. This prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from meeting the egg.

When does it start to be effective?

Tubal ligation is effective immediately, however pain, discomfort and bleeding following the procedure may mean you do not feel like sex.

Where can I get a tubal ligation?

You can get a tubal ligation done by a gynaecologist in a hospital or day surgery. You will need a referral from your doctor.

What stops a tubal ligation from working?

It is very uncommon for a tubal ligation to stop working.

What is good about a tubal ligation?

  • Very effective.
  • Can be performed at a public hospital at no cost, although waiting times can be long.
  • Permanent (lasts forever).
  • Does not change how often you have your menstrual period.
  • Provides a choice for those who do not want to use hormonal contraception.
  • Does not affect your ability to enjoy sex or reach orgasm.
  • It may allow your partner to stop using other types of contraception if they want to prevent pregnancy.
  • It can reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.

Are there any side effects from having a tubal ligation?

  • You may have scarring, bruising or infection at the wound site.
  • There can be pain in your abdomen and shoulder for a few days after the procedure.

Can a tubal ligation cause any serious health problems?

There can be damage to blood vessels, bladder or bowel through surgery, but this is rare.

Reasons why a tubal ligation might not be a good option for you:

  • Think you might want children later.

You are more likely to want a tubal ligation reversed if you:

  • are young (particularly aged under 30 years)
  • do not have any children
  • are having trouble with a current relationship
  • have a tubal ligation at the same time as an abortion or caesarean delivery.

What happens if I get pregnant after a tubal ligation?

Although unlikely, if you get pregnant after a tubal ligation, you have an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. This is a pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. An ectopic pregnancy can be an emergency. If you think you are pregnant you should seek medical care as soon as possible.

Can I have a tubal ligation after I have had a baby?

You can have a tubal ligation at the time of giving birth or shortly after. Speak to your doctor or nurse for more information.

What if I have had a tubal ligation and I want to become pregnant?

You can reverse a tubal ligation, but it can be expensive. You have around a 50% chance of getting pregnant after reversal.

What else should I know about a tubal ligation?

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Where to get more information and support

If you are using the internet for information, only use reliable and reputable websites, such as the ones provided above.

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This website and any related materials are for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as (or in substitution for) medical or other professional advice. You should seek specific medical or professional advice for your individual circumstances.

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Last updated: 24 June 2021