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What is a tubal ligation?

Tubal Ligation

Tubal ligation, or “having your tubes tied,” is a surgical procedure that provides permanent birth control for women. A tubal ligation involves surgically cutting or blocking both fallopian tubes so a man’s sperm cannot reach a woman’s egg and fertilize it to begin a pregnancy.

The fallopian tubes are located in the lower abdominal (pelvic) area. They connect the ovaries to the uterus and provide a passage for sperm to move to a woman’s egg and for a fertilized egg to move into the uterus. When the fallopian tubes are blocked, sperm cannot reach the egg and fertilize it to begin a pregnancy.

Tubal ligation is a common but significant surgery with risks and potential complications. Other methods of birth control are less invasive than a tubal ligation and are not permanent. Ask your doctor about all of your options to understand which are best for you before having a tubal ligation. 

Types of tubal ligations

Methods of blocking or disconnecting fallopian tubes during a tubal ligation include:

  • Clamping or banding involves applying a small clamp, clip, or band to each fallopian tube to shut it.

  • Cutting and tying involves making one cut in each fallopian tube so that they are no longer connected and tying shut the open ends.

  • Sealing with electrical current involves making one cut in each fallopian tube so that they are no longer connected then using a small amount of electrical current to seal the open ends.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 6, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Birth control methods fact sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health.
  2. Hysteroscopic Sterilization: History and Current Methods. Greenberg, James A. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Summer; 1(3): 113–121.
  3. Sterilization for Women (Tubal Sterilization). Planned Parenthood.
  4. Sterilization for Women and Men. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  5. Tubal Ligation (Female Surgical Sterilization). The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC).
  6. Tubal Ligation. Johns Hopkins Medicine.,27/

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