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What Is Laparoscopic Tubal Sterilization?

Laparoscopic tubal sterilization is a type of surgery. It’s used to block the fallopian tubes. It’s often called “having your tubes tied.” This is done to prevent a future pregnancy. During surgery, a thin lighted tube called a laparoscope is used. This allows surgery to be done through small incisions. Tubal sterilization is thought of as permanent. Having it means you will not be able to get pregnant again. (A reversal can be attempted, but it is not often successful.) So be sure this is what you want. Talk it over with your partner. And discuss your options with your healthcare provider.

Cross section front view of vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. Ovary releases egg each month. Sperm travel up uterus and fallopian tube to meet egg.

Cross section front view of vagina, cervix, ovaries, uterus, and blocked fallopian tubes. Blocking fallopian tubes prevents sperm from reaching egg.

How Effective Is Surgery?

This surgery is one of the most effective birth control methods. But very rarely, pregnancy can still occur. In some cases, the pregnancy is normal. In other cases, a fertilized egg may start to grow in a fallopian tube. This is called an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. It requires emergency care. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions.

The Female Reproductive System

During each menstrual cycle, one of the ovaries releases an egg. This egg travels into a fallopian tube. After vaginal intercourse, sperm can enter the tube. There, it fertilizes the egg. If the egg isn’t fertilized, it is absorbed by the body. Or, it’s discharged during your monthly period. 

After Tubal Sterilization

After surgery, each ovary still releases an egg. But the egg’s passage through the fallopian tube is now blocked. Sperm also can’t pass through the tube to the egg. When egg and sperm can’t meet, pregnancy can’t happen. The egg is absorbed by your body. You’ll keep having menstrual periods until menopause.

Risks and Complications

Problems with tubal sterilization are rare, but can include:

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Damage to blood vessels, nerves, or muscles

  • Damage to the bladder, ureters, or bowel, requiring surgical repair

  • Blood clots

  • Failure to block the fallopian tubes (very rare)

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/25/2010
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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