There are many forms of birth control, each of them with their own pros and cons. For women looking for a permanent method of birth control, tubal ligation (also known as "getting your tubes tied") is a popular option. The procedure is permanent, which makes it an attractive option to those who definitely don't want any children in their future. There are no daily pills to take, and once you've had the procedure you're done worrying about birth control altogether, which honestly sounds very freeing.
However it's important to do your research before any medical procedure. Like most things, getting your tubes tied has it's own set of advantages and drawbacks. Before you go rushing off to the doctor, here are some things to consider about getting your tubes tied.
How it Works
Tubal ligation is a procedure that is done under anesthetic. At a hospital or surgical clinic a doctor makes an incision in the abdomen and seals the Fallopian tubes. This can be achieved by cutting, clamping or suturing the tubes. Doing so blocks the sperm's path to the egg, making fertilization highly unlikely. It additionally blocks the female egg from moving from the ovaries through the tubes.
This procedure can be done in a few hours, or even just after you have given birth. It's important to keep in mind that this is a method of pregnancy prevention, and doesn't protect against STI's. Although it is a common procedure, there is of course a risk of pain, infection and bleeding.
What You Need to Know About Getting Your Tubes Tied
With the extremely rare exception of cases where the tubes grow back together, this method is close to 100% effective at permanently preventing pregnancy. While this is part of what makes it such a popular option, it's also really important to be sure that you don't want any pregnancies in your future before you commit.
There is a chance that you can reverse the procedure, however only under certain conditions. Additionally, attempting to do so can be costly, and have risk of complications. Your best bet is to make sure you are ready for a permanent option.
There are Risks
Although getting your tubes tied is a relatively simple procedure, there are risks. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, serious problems are rare, but may include bleeding, infection, organ damage and increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. There are a few conditions that can increase your risk of complications from a tubal ligation, including diabetes, obesity and lung disease.
However, this is still considered a very safe procedure because serious adverse complications are only estimated as happening in "less than 1 out of 1,000 women" (Johns Hopkins Medicine).
One of the more common risks for women who have gotten their tubes tied is the potential of having an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Although the likelihood of getting pregnant after you've had the procedure is slim, the chances of it being a tubal pregnancy are increased. An ectopic pregnancy is where the fertilized egg implants into the fallopian tube rather than the uterus. This carries the dangerous risk of the fallopian tube rupturing and causing internal bleeding.
There May Be Potential Long Term Side Effects
While tubal ligation is largely considered very safe, some women have reported a collection of unpleasant symptoms afterward. Although post-tubal ligation syndrome is not fully recognized by the medical community, to the women experiencing it, it is very real. While many women get their tubes tied and go about their merry way with no ill-effects, some women have reported symptoms that mimic the effects of a hormonal imbalance. These symptoms include hot flashes, depression, mood swings and fatigue.
Women who have experienced these effects are not only suffering from the symptoms themselves, but from the attitudes of the medical community that doubts that this condition exists. While there are researchers looking for more answers and many women fighting for advocacy when it comes to this syndrome, not much is known at this point about post-tubal ligation syndrome.
Deciding Whether Tubal Ligation is Best for You
For many women and couples, a tubal ligation is the perfect solution to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Due to the fact that it is safe, effective and routinely conducted, it is often the choice of people who are sure that they don't want any (or any more) children. However, because it is a medical procedure with it's own set of side effects and complications, making an informed choice is the best possible route for a satisfied outcome.