Sterilisation is a birth control option if you are certain that you do not want to have children in the future. For women, sterilisation involves a brief operation to block your fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from your ovaries to your uterus.
There are two main types of female sterilisation: one type uses hysteroscopy, which is done through your vagina, and that procedure is not discussed here. This information is about female sterilisation that is done through small cuts in your abdomen (laparoscopic tubal occlusion).
After you’ve had sterilization surgery, your ovaries continue to release eggs until the menopause. The aim of the surgery is to block the egg’s path to the uterus, so it can’t meet up with your partner’s sperm to create an embryo. The eggs are very tiny and after being released, they simply dissolve.
Although female sterilisation can sometimes be reversed, it’s not always possible. It is intended to be permanent, so you need to be certain that you won’t change your mind in the future.
Your doctor will also talk to you about other effective options such as having an intrauterine device (IUD or coil) or intrauterine system (IUS, which is similar to a coil with the addition of a hormone). An IUD or IUS lasts for several years and if you change your mind, your doctor can remove it at any time.
If you are part of a committed couple, another option is for your partner to have a vasectomy, the operation for male sterilisation, which is more effective for preventing pregnancy.
This surgery is usually carried out under a general anaesthetic, so you will sleep through it.
Your gynaecologist will make two small incisions (cuts) in your abdomen. One of these incisions is for the laparoscope, which has a small camera that lets the doctor see inside your body. The other incision is for the surgical instruments. Your gynaecologist will place a clip on each fallopian tube to block it off.
For a few days after the operation, you might feel tired and a bit unwell and have some vaginal bleeding.
You will need to use another form of contraception for a short time afterwards and your consultant will advise you on this.
You’ll probably be advised to rest for a couple of days, and most women can get back to work on light duties after a week. You may need more time off work if you are on your feet a lot or have to do heavy lifting.
Except for a short time after your surgery, you won’t have to think about or use any contraception again in the future. It puts you firmly in control.
It is also a method that does not interfere or need any attention while you are having sex. It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections so you may still need to use a condom.
This is also a contraceptive method that does not use any hormones, which may be an important consideration for you. It does not affect your periods (although they might get heavier if you were using hormone-based contraception before your operation).
Sterilisation is 99 per cent effective as a method of birth control. Pregnancies do sometimes happen, but it is rare. Over a lifetime, the chances of falling pregnant after female sterilisation are estimated to be 1 in 200.
Any surgery has some risk of infection, bleeding or blood clots, or damage to nearby organs. However, complications resulting from female sterilisation surgery are uncommon.
There is still a small chance that you could get pregnant afterwards. Although every effort is made to ensure you’re not pregnant when the operation is done, it’s possible for a fertilised egg to be present at the time of the surgery. It does not happen often, but there is a small possibility that the fallopian tubes can grow back together. If you do get pregnant after the surgery, you have a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo is growing in your fallopian tube).
Some women have a change of heart later on, and regret having the surgery. This is more likely if you have the operation before the age of 30, if you have no children, if you’ve just had an abortion, or if you’re having relationship problems. In such situations, your doctor may advise you to consider other contraceptive options for now.
Whatever your situation and priorities, your Circle Health gynaecologist will take the time to help you explore all the options, and use their specialist expertise to provide the contraceptive solution that will work best for you.
Make an enquiry by email, ask us to call you back, or fast-track your treatment by booking an appointment with one of our skilled gynaecologists, for quick and expert care.