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What is Female Sterilization?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Female sterilization is a form of contraception that involves cutting or sealing the Fallopian tubes. The Fallopian tubes are the tubes leading from the ovaries to the uterus in which the eggs travel. Female sterilization is also known as tubal ligation.

When the Fallopian tubes are sealed or cut, sperm is unable to reach the eggs and fertilize them. Female sterilization is 99% effective. Statistics have shown that after sterilization, only one in 200 women can still become pregnant.

Female sterilization is a permanent procedure, but it is reversible. However, only 50 to 80% of women return to normal fertility after the operation is reversed. The likelihood of full recovery depends on the age of the woman and the type of sterilization performed.

The sterilization process is most commonly chosen by women who do not want to have any more children. Some women who do not want to have any children ever also choose to undergo the procedure. Female sterilization is a big decision and is not usually chosen until later in life.

Female sterilization commonly begins with a laparoscopy. In this procedure, a small cut is made in the abdominal wall and a small camera is inserted to view the Fallopian tubes. One of four methods can then be used for the sterilization process.

In a partial salpingectomy, the Fallopian tubes are cut, tied or stitched. Another method is to clamp the Fallopian tubes with a spring clip. Rings can also be used to clamp the tubes shut. Electro coagulation makes use of an electric current to burn the Fallopian tubes and seal them off.

Female sterilization usually takes around 30 minutes to perform. It is commonly performed under a general or local anesthetic. Women who undergo the operation are usually able to return home on the same day. Some women choose to have the operation during a Caesarean section. It can also be performed shortly after childbirth.

Sterilization is effective as birth control immediately after the operation. However, most doctors advise the use of other forms of contraception until after the woman's next period has passed.

As with any surgery, some risks or complications can arise during female sterilization. There have been instances, although rare, in which the Fallopian tubes have rejoined and the female has become fertile. There is also a small risk of infection and excessive internal bleeding. There may also be a small chance of damage to other internal organs.

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Discussion Comments
By jessiwan — On Oct 28, 2013

I have an idea. Instead of having tubal ligation performed, why not just opt for a hysterectomy? This way the woman will not be able to get pregnant, plus she won't have any more troublesome periods. Win-win situation.

By pastanaga — On Jun 06, 2011

I have always found it interesting that quite a few women seem to have this done because their husbands refuse to have a vasectomy. I know that it is hard to imagine letting a surgeon get that close to that area, but the female sterilization options are so much more invasive and dangerous (although still not massively so). I personally think that men should just suck it up and get it over with, rather than let their wives go through with this.

By Mor — On Jun 03, 2011

I think that I've heard of this procedure being performed on women in countries which have a birthrate limit. If she continues to have children after being warned, they use this kind of permanent birth control for women.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Of course, I do feel like women should be able to control their own bodies, and should not be forced into surgery. But on the other hand massive populations are putting so much pressure on the planet. People are already dying from global warming weather changes.

I just don't know the answer. Of course, ideally it would be to raise the living standards of everyone so they wouldn't feel the need to have so many kids.

But, that's perhaps wishful thinking.

By croydon — On Jun 02, 2011

I have heard of this procedure being used during a Cesarean section. I think it has been used as a device on shows like Grey's Anatomy, where one of the characters is asked to do a sneaky sterilization by a religious woman who doesn't want her husband to know.

I suppose this counts as the ultimate form of birth control, so religions which are against using birth control would be against using this.

I think it is a shame, as female sterilization surgery would certainly help keep an older woman from having a dangerous pregnancy, without denying her the comfort of her husband.

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