Tubal ligation or “tying tubes” is a surgical procedure that blocks the Fallopian tubes to prevent the egg from traveling through the tubes and reaching the uterus, where possible fertilization could occur. This can be accomplished by cutting, tying, burning or by a more advanced method of placing a blockage within the tube (such as Essure®).
Each month women produce an egg from the ovary (ovulation) at approximately mid-cycle and the microscopic egg will pass through the Fallopian tube to the endometrial cavity inside the uterus. The egg is often fertilized within the tube or at the entrance to the uterus. Tubal ligation blocks this pathway and thus prevents fertilization. The microscopic egg then dissolves and is absorbed back into the woman’s body naturally.
In the past, most tubal ligations were performed under general anesthesia in the operating room with laparoscopic closure of the tubes by either burning or placement of a closure device to the outside of the tube. These methods carry the risk of general anesthesia and other risks of laparoscopic surgery (bleeding, infection, damage to internal organs and several day recovery requiring pain medicine).
Fortunately, advances in surgical technique have provided a more minimally invasive alternative to successfully close the tubes and prevent pregnancy. This technique, called Essure®, can be performed in the office with local anesthesia. With this procedure, a small implant, similar to material used in cardiac procedures, is placed within the tube and the woman’s own body is allowed to create a blockage that will prevent pregnancy. This is done with local anesthesia and a fiberoptic camera placed through the vagina and cervix. Most women can expect minimal to no discomfort and will be able to leave the office within 45 minutes of the procedure. Recovery is also less complicated and painful due to this incision-less method.
Benefits of Tubal Ligation
Benefits of tubal ligation include the fact that it is non-hormonal, highly effective, permanent birth control. And with this new procedure, it is also carries minimal risk or side effects. Recent evidence shows that the procedure may also provide some protection from ovarian cancer.
Regardless of method, tubal ligation is considered a PERMANENT method of birth control. It is difficult and frequently unsuccessful to “untie” tubes. Additionally, tubal ligation reversal is often not covered by insurance. A personal consultation with your physician will help with choosing your optimal choice for birth control.