Tubal ligation can be done while you're recovering from vaginal childbirth (using a small incision under the navel called a minilaparotomy) or during a C-section delivery. It can also be done as an outpatient procedure (interval tubal ligation) separate from childbirth. Interval tubal ligation is usually done with a laparoscope — a thin tube equipped with a camera lens and light — under short-acting general anesthesia.
During the procedure
If you have an interval tubal ligation as an outpatient procedure, either a needle is inserted or an incision is made through your navel so your abdomen can be inflated with gas (carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide). Then a laparoscope is inserted into your abdomen.
In most cases, your doctor will make a second small incision to insert special instruments. Using instruments passed through the abdominal wall, your doctor seals the fallopian tubes by destroying segments of the tubes or blocking them with plastic rings or clips.
If you have a tubal ligation after vaginal childbirth, your doctor will likely make a small incision under your navel, providing easy access to your still-enlarged uterus and fallopian tubes. If you have a tubal ligation during a C-section, your health care provider will use the incision that was made to deliver the baby.
After the procedure
If your abdomen was inflated with gas during the interval tubal procedure, the gas will be withdrawn. You may be allowed to go home several hours after the procedure. If you have the procedure in combination with childbirth, the tubal ligation isn't likely to prolong your hospital stay.
You'll have some discomfort at the incision site. You might also experience:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Gassiness or bloating
- Shoulder pain
You may take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) for pain relief, but avoid using aspirin, since it may increase bleeding. You may bathe 48 hours after the procedure, but avoid straining or rubbing the incision for one week. Carefully dry the incision after bathing.
Avoid strenuous lifting and sex for one to two weeks. Resume your normal activities gradually as you begin to feel better. Your stitches will dissolve and won't require removal. Check with your health care provider to see if you need a follow-up appointment.
If you have any concerns that you aren't healing properly, call your doctor. In addition, contact your health care provider immediately if you experience:
- A temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or greater
- Fainting spells
- Severe abdominal pain that's persistent or gets worse after 12 hours
- Bleeding from your incision that's persistent or gets worse after 12 hours, despite use of pressure and bandages
- Discharge from your incision that's persistent or gets worse
If you think you're pregnant at any time after the tubal ligation, contact your health care provider immediately.
Keep in mind that although tubal ligation reversal is possible, the procedure is complicated and not guaranteed to be effective.
Dec. 09, 2014
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- Stovall TG, et al. Surgical sterilization of women. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 27, 2014.
- Frequently asked questions. Contraception FAQ035. Sterilization by laparoscopy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Sterilization-by-Laparoscopy. Accessed Sept. 27, 2014.
- Frequently asked questions. Contraception FAQ052. Postpartum sterilization. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Postpartum-Sterilization. Accessed Sept. 27, 2014.