Tubal Sterilization

Tubal sterilization, offered on Long Island and in Queens, New York, at The Woman’s Health Pavilion, is the most popular method of contraception for women over 35 in this country. Also called tubal ligation, this permanent birth control procedure involves sealing off the fallopian tubes to prevent sperm from reaching the eggs. Tubal sterilization was first reported in 1880 and is now used worldwide by more couples than any other method of contraception.

Tubal sterilization has many advantages for the right candidates.

What are the advantages of tubal sterilization?

First, it is extremely reliable: Failure rates under 1% are expected with all types of tubal sterilization. Second, tubal sterilization requires no ongoing precautions: There are no prescriptions to fill and no special preparations for intercourse after tubal sterilization. Because the methods are intended to be permanent, women who are quite sure that they have completed their families may be pleased to never have to worry about contraception again. Finally, laparoscopic tubal sterilization—for reasons which remain obscure—is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of subsequent ovarian cancer.

How is laparoscopic tubal sterilization done?

Laparoscopic tubal sterilization is performed under general anesthesia in a hospital operating room or a surgicenter. In this procedure, a telescope is inserted into the navel through a well-hidden ½ inch incision. A special instrument is then used to seal the tubes, making it impossible for sperm and eggs to meet. The procedure typically takes just 15 to 20 minutes to perform, with patients discharged home after a short period of observation in the recovery room.

What is the recovery time for a laparoscopic tubal ligation?

Most patients can return to work after 2 to 3 days.

Is laparoscopic tubal sterilization painful?

Patients typically have mild or moderate pain for a few days, managed with ibuprofen or a mild narcotic.

What are the possible complications?

Laparoscopic tubal sterilization is very safe, but rare complications have been reported. Bleeding and infection are not common, but can occur as with any surgical procedure. Other complications, including but not limited to anesthetic complications, injuries to the bowel or to urinary structures, and blood clots have rarely been reported.

Can you get pregnant after laparoscopic tubal sterilization?

The risk of failure (i.e., pregnancy) after laparoscopic tubal sterilization is about 1 in 300; this makes laparoscopic steriliazation more reliable than birth control pills, the patch, or the ring, and much more reliable than condoms, diaphragms, and “pulling out.”

Importantly, about half of the pregnancies that occur after laparoscopic sterilization are ectopic pregnancies, or pregnancies in the fallopian tubes. Since this is a potentially life-threatening condition, women who think that they may be pregnant after a laparoscopic tubal sterilization should seek medical attention immediately.

Laparoscopic tubal sterilization, for reasons which remain obscure, is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of subsequent ovarian cancer.

Another important risk to consider is the risk of regret: Laparoscopic tubal sterilization is intended to produce permanent results. If you are not certain whether your family is complete, or you feel that you may change your mind at some point in the future, you definitely should not undergo a sterilization procedure. Women who are under 30 or in unstable marriages are at particularly high risk of subsequent regret.

Can you reverse a laparoscopic tubal ligation?

While it is possible nowadays to achieve pregnancy after being sterilized by tubal ligation, it is not at all easy to do so. Achieving a pregnancy after laparoscopic sterilization requires another operation (to re-connect the tubes) or in vitro fertilization, a highly specialized and expensive reproductive technique. Success in achieving a pregnancy is not guaranteed in either case.

What are the benefits of tubal ligation?

Overall, most patients are very satisfied with the results of their tubal ligation. They enjoy intimacy without awkward preparations for contraception. They do not have to fill a costly monthly prescription, and worry about the risk of exposure to hormones contained in the pill, patch, and contraceptive injections. The procedure is not expected to change a woman’s mood, her menstrual cycle, or her sexual response—except that some women report more satisfying sexual relations once their fear of pregnancy is removed.

When is the best time to schedule a tubal ligation?

About half of all tubal ligation procedures are performed at or immediately after delivery. Otherwise, procedures should ideally be scheduled in the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle (i.e., right after your period) to reduce the possibility that you might be pregnant and not know it when the procedure is performed. If it is not possible to schedule your procedure during this time, make sure you use a reliable form of contraception in the weeks prior to your procedure date.

For the right patients, tubal ligation is a sensible permanent method to prevent pregnancy. If you think that tubal ligation is right for you, we invite you to consult with us at The Woman’s Health Pavilion.

If you’re not sure if you want children, or if you might change your mind in the future, you should not undergo a sterilization procedure.

If you are considering a sterilization procedure, think carefully about your life circumstances, your relationship, and your family. Sterilization is sometimes a very sensible and convenient option, but this permanent option requires thoughtful consideration. If you are sure that you have completed your family, contact us online to schedule a consultation or call any of our locations in Queens and Long Island.


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