How is it done?
The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and a small ‘telescope’ is passed into your abdomen just below the navel. A second cut is made lower down, the fallopian tubes are found and a clip placed onto each one, blocking it. The operation usually takes less than half an hour.
Some important points
Permanent and irreversible. This type of contraception should only be considered when you have definitely finished your family. Whilst reversal operations are occasionally performed, they are difficult, may not be successful and are not usually available on the NHS.
Failure. It is important that you realise that occasionally the operation is unsuccessful. This is more likely if it is done around the time of a pregnancy, or in a younger woman. Overall, the risk is about 1 in 200. If you did become pregnant, there is a possibility that the pregnancy might occur in the tube (ectopic pregnancy). You should see a doctor if you feel you are pregnant or have unexpected abdominal pain or bleeding.
Operation complications. As with any operation, there is a small chance of complications. The main risks are bleeding that is difficult to control or unexpected damage to the bowel or bladder during the operation. Every effort is taken to avoid these and the risk of problems is very small indeed. The risk is higher if you have had previous surgery or are overweight. In these cases, an open operation may be needed, requiring a longer stay in hospital.
After the operation
When you come round after the operation, you will probably feel drowsy and you may feel slightly sick. This will wear off after a few hours. You will normally be discharged on the same day as your operation, but should not go home alone. You may wish to organise to have some help at home when you first return.
Will it be painful?
There may be some pain or discomfort for 2-3 days, but this will be controlled with the painkillers given at the time of discharge. You may feel pain in your shoulders caused by trapped wind. If the pain becomes more distressing, please contact the hospital or your own doctor. You should try to rest for the next couple of days – not necessarily in bed, but be guided by how strong you feel as to how much you do.
What about the scar?
You should keep the wound clean and uncovered. After a daily bath, make sure that it is dried thoroughly. If it becomes red and hot, please call the hospital or see your GP, as this may be a sign of infection.
When can I drive?
You can start driving again when you feel able to do an ’emergency stop’, but certainly not for the first 24 hours.
When can I go back to work?
You can return to work after a week if you feel comfortable. You will be given a sick note to cover this if required.
When can I resume sexual activity?
Most women find that their sexual response doesn’t change following sterilisation. You may feel sore initially, but apart from this, it is safe to start again when you feel ready. You should continue your usual precautions until after your next period.
Learn more about the advantages of tubal ligation in our birth control forum.