When it comes to birth control these days, women have a lot of options. If you’re done having children or have made the decision you don’t want them at all, you may have contemplated getting your tubes tied.
The procedure to get your “tubes tied” is actually called a “tubal ligation” in medical terms. A tubal ligation is a sterilization procedure where a woman’s fallopian tubes are cut or blocked to prevent eggs released by your ovaries from reaching your uterus and being fertilized. Tubal ligations are performed surgically. They can be done through small incisions in the belly or even vaginally, within a few days after vaginal birth or even at the same time as a C-Section.
While tubal ligation is the most common contraceptive method used by women, it isn’t well understood.
“If you’re considering having it done, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of it before making a decision,” said Pooja Shah, MD, an OBGYN at Banner Health Center in Chandler, AZ. “Tubal ligations should actually be a part of a larger conversation you have with your doctor when considering contraception. They can help guide you, so you make the right decision for you and your body.”
If you are considering getting your tubes tied, Dr. Shah shared seven things you should know before deciding if it’s right for you.
1. Your tubes aren’t actually tied
While your doctor will refer to it as a tubal ligation or sterilization, you’ve probably only heard it referred to as “getting your tubes tied.” The thing is, it’s not as simple as tying your fallopian tubes into a nice little bow—in fact, it’s nothing like this at all.
With a tubal ligation, either part or all of the tubes might be cut, blocked or removed. The most common method is surgical and done laparoscopically in an outpatient procedure. If performed vaginally, a doctor will go through your vagina and cervix and up into the fallopian tubes.
2. It really is permanent
This can be a real plus if you don’t plan on having any more children, but a real downer if you change your mind.
“The biggest thing people sometimes don’t realize is that this is permanent,” Dr. Shah said. “While it can sometimes be reversed with surgery, it’s not always possible and definitely does not guarantee pregnancy.”
3. Age is a big factor
Because this form of permanent contraception is not meant to be reversed, you may want to wait if you are young or do not have children.
“Doctors often have their own recommendations for the youngest age to perform tubal ligation,” Dr. Shah said. “For some, it’s after 25, but for others it’s after 30.”
4. The risk of regret
Dr. Shah said the other biggest risk she sees is regret.
“At the time of your procedure, you might not have wanted children, but this can all change,” she said. “Whether you found a new partner or you are now an empty nester, there are many reasons people change their minds about having kids. If you are not sure about future plans, there are fantastic contraceptive options that are long-term, not permanent and can be reversed in the future.”
5. You’ll still get your period
Most likely you won’t see any changes to your period, which can be good or bad, if you like or dislike getting it. It also won’t affect your hormones like other forms of contraception.
6. You may have to wait
You may be anxious to get the procedure over with but be prepared to wait. In some federally funded health insurance plans, it is mandatory to wait at least 30 days after signing a consent form to have your procedure completed.
7. A vasectomy is WAY easier
“While tubal ligation is a personal decision, engage in a conversation with your physician about your desires, doubts and questions so you are confident in your decision,” Dr. Shah said.