If you’re done having children or are confident you don’t want any (at least biologically), then tubal litigation may seem like an attractive form of birth control. But while female sterilization has many advantages for women in this position, it also comes with drawbacks that it’s important to be aware of. If you’re considering whether tubal litigation is right for you, this is what you need to know.
Understanding Tubal Litigation
Tubal litigation is a permanent form of birth control. While some forms of this procedure can be reversed, it often requires major surgery and isn’t guaranteed to be effective. That’s why this procedure is not recommended to people who want to become pregnant in the future. Rather, tubal litigation is a good option for people who don’t want kids, are done expanding their family, or require it for health reasons.
Depending on the procedure, the fallopian tubes can be cut, tied, or blocked. In either case, it prevents the sperm from meeting the egg in the fallopian tubes, thereby stopping pregnancy from taking place.
There are various types of tubal litigation, including the following procedures:
- Bipolar Coagulation: electrical currents are used to cauterize the fallopian tubes.
- Monopolar Coagulation: like bipolar coagulation in that it uses electrical currents to cauterize, but more damage is done to fallopian tubes.
- Fimbreictomy: a portion of the fallopian tube is removed to prevent transfer of eggs into the ovary
- Irving Procedure: the fallopian tubes are tied while a porting of tubing is removed.
- Tubal Clip: a permanent clip is attached to a fallopian tube to prevent the transfer of eggs to the ovary.
- Tubal Ring: a ring or tube is applied to the fallopian tube to prevent the transfer of the eggs.
- Pomeroy Tubal Litigation: the fallopian tube is cut, tied, and burned, but is easier to reverse.
- Essure: two coils are placed in the fallopian tube, encouraging tissue to form that will prevent sperm from reaching the egg.
- Adiana: two silicone pieces are placed in the fallopian tube, which leads to the development of scar tissue and blocks sperm from reaching the egg.
The procedure recommended to you by your healthcare provider will differ depending on your overall health and desired outcome from tubal litigation.
Recovering From Tubal Litigation
Recovery after a tubal litigation depends on the type of procedure you had and your overall health. But while this is an invasive, surgical procedure, most people are able to go home the same day as the surgery.
My Health Alberta says it’s common to have abdominal pain for a few days following the surgery. Your stomach may be swollen, or you may experience changes to your bowel movements if you had a laparoscopy. You may also feel shoulder and back pain – this is caused by a gas used during the procedure that allows the doctor to see your organs clearly.
You’ll be given specific instructions by your doctor about how long you must wait before returning to work (this can vary depending on the nature of your job), and what activities you should avoid. If you had a laparoscopy, your recovery may be slightly longer.
In general, you’ll be instructed not to lift anything heavy or do any swift physical movements for at least a week post-operation. You should be able to stick to a normal diet, but should avoid certain foods if your stomach is upset (like anything greasy or spicy).
You’ll need to follow your doctor’s instructions for how to care for your incision, like changing the bandages every day. You may also be prescribed medication (or told to use over-the-counter options) to help manage your post-surgery pain.
The Risks Of Tubal Litigation
The side effects and risks associated with tubal litigation vary depending on the procedure. In general, female sterilization is a very safe procedure, otherwise, it wouldn’t be offered unless in rare cases.
But there are important effects you should be aware of before undergoing the procedure, including the following. WebMD notes that people who are overweight, had surgery in your abdomen, or have an illness (like diabetes, lung disease, or pelvic inflammatory disease) are at a higher risk of experiencing complications after a tubal litigation.
As with any surgical procedure, there’s a risk that your incision can become infected. This risk is higher if you don’t follow proper care instructions following your procedure.
During the procedure, there’s a rare risk that damage could be caused to your organs (like bowel or bladder) or even major blood vessels, which can have a host of consequences if not treated in a timely fashion.
Post-Tubal Ligation Syndrome (PTLS)
Some women experience PTLS after a tubal litigation, which shares similar symptoms to menopause – hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, low libido, and irregular periods. PTLS can affect women years After their procedure, and doctors still don’t know the full reasons behind this condition.
While the risk of pregnancy remains low after a tubal litigation, it can still happen. But most times, the pregnancy isn’t viable due to the procedure and can result in an ectopic pregnancy. This carries a risk to maternal health if not properly treated.
However, the risk of ectopic pregnancy is rare following tubal litigation. One study found that it only affects 3-4 women out of 1,000 who get the procedure.
Though some tubal litigation procedures are reversible, that’s not always a guarantee. Even if pregnancy is possible, it can make it more challenging and dangerous. Some people experience regret after a tubal litigation if they decide down the line they want children. Make sure you’re confident in your decision before going under the knife.
Weighing The Pros & Cons
The only person who can decide if tubal litigation is right for you is yourself. It’s an incredibly personal decision, one with pros and cons. When deciding, it’s important to take all the advantages and drawbacks into consideration, including the following.
Pros of tubal litigation:
- It’s permanent – you undergo the procedure once, and then it’s over.
- It’s effective – there’s a less than 1% chance you’ll get pregnant following a tubal litigation.
- You don’t need to do anything – unlike other forms of birth control that require you to stick to a schedule, you don’t need to do anything once you’ve recovered from the procedure
- Minimal side effects – While you’ll experience side effects in recovery, complications are very rare and you’ll likely feel no effects within a few weeks of the procedure
- Lowers cancer risk – research has found that tubal litigation can lower the risk of ovarian cancer
Cons of tubal litigation:
- It’s permanent – as much as this is a pro, it’s also a con if you later decide you want it reversed, which isn’t always effective.
- Doesn’t protect against STDs – tubal litigation only protects against pregnancy; you still need to use other contractive methods to protect against sexually transmitted diseases
- Pregnancy is still possible – Although the chances are low, it’s still a possibility. The risk of ectopic pregnancy is higher, and this can require surgery to treat
- Surgery risks As discussed, tubal litigation comes with a variety of rare but real risks that need to be taken into consideration
For more information about tubal litigation and for help deciding if it’s right for you, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider.
Sources: NCCRM, Glowm, My Health Alberta, WebMD,
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