Tubal Ligation Surgery: Complications, Risks, and Side Effects

If you are an adult woman and you don’t want to get pregnant in the future, tubal ligation may be a good contraceptive choice for you. It is a permanent type of birth control (contraception) for women.

In this surgical procedure, a woman’s fallopian tubes are either blocked by clips or rings (band) or burned shut in order to stop her from getting pregnant. This abdominal procedure stops male sperm from meeting the female eggs in the fallopian tubes for fertilization.

We have discussed the tubal ligation surgery at length in the previous article. In this article, we will highlight the risks, complications and side effects associated with this female surgical sterilization.

Tubal ligation is often considered as safe and effective contraception method for preventing pregnancy, but it does come with its fair share of downsides. As with any surgery, some potential side effects, risks and complications can occur with tubal ligation surgery.

The major complications that rarely occur with tubal ligation surgery include heavy blood loss and damage to a nearby organ (bowel, uterus, ovaries or bladder) during the operation. Infection, wound separation, reaction to anesthetic and burns on the skin are other complications that may occur with this procedure. A patient may suffer painful scar formation, slight vaginal bleeding and allergic skin reaction to surgical tape, but these are minor and temporary complications and your gynecologist can handle them easily.

Side Effects
Tiredness, slight menstrual-like cramps and shoulder pain due to the carbon dioxide used during surgery are the common side effects of this surgery. Some patients may feel dizzy or nauseous, and suffer prolonged pelvic or abdominal pain. Soaring throat is also possible if the procedure is performed using general anesthesia. All these side effects are temporary and usually go away within a week after the surgery. If the fatigue and soreness over the surgical cuts persist for longer period, mild medication can be used for relief.

Bleeding from the incision site, uterine perforation and menstrual cycle disturbances along with other gynecological problems are the possible risks, while ectopic pregnancy may be the major risk associated with this surgical female contraception method. Although rare, there is a possibility that a woman will get pregnant after tubal ligation. By some estimates, about 5 out of 1,000 women who have had their tubes tied will conceive after one year following the surgery.

Pregnancy after the tubal ligation may occur if the cut ends of the tubes grow back together and form a new passage to allow a sperm to fertilize an egg. Loosening of clips, tubes blocked inefficiently are the other risk factors that can increase a woman’s chance of getting pregnant after tubal ligation.

If the surgery fails and pregnancy occurs, there’s a chance that the pregnancy will be ectopic. Also called a tubal pregnancy, in the ectopic pregnancy the fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube which can be potentially dangerous and may require emergent medical care.

Also, the surgery doesn’t protect you and your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Since tubal ligation is a permanent contraception method to stop a woman from getting pregnant and reversal of the tubal ligation surgery is quite risky, you should only consider this procedure if you are sure that you will never want more children in future.