Tying a Woman's Tubes

What is "Tying Your Tubes"?

The tubes referred to are a woman's fallopian tubes, and "tying your tubes" is what some women opt to do when they want to prevent themselves from being able to get pregnant.

The medically correct term for this permanent form of contraception is tubal ligation. Tubal ligation involves closing off ('tying') a woman's fallopian tubes so that a man's sperm cannot meet an egg, and therefore fertilization and pregnancy cannot occur.

Types of Tubal Ligation

There are several methods by which tubal ligation may be performed, depending on a woman's body weight and surgical history.

•1) In laparoscopy (also called laparoscopic sterilization) a small instrument that functions as a mini-telescope with a light on its end (a laparoscope) is inserted through a small incision made by the surgeon, allowing the surgeon to see the fallopian tubes and to close them up. 'Tying' or closing a woman's tubes can be accomplished using clips, clamps, rings, or sealing them closed via electric current. The advantages of this procedure are that it is relatively non-invasive, quick (about 30 minutes long), has a short recovery time (women go home the same day) and leaves minimal scarring.

•2) In a mini-laparotomy - a tube-tying procedure often opted immediately after a women gives birth - an incision is made near the pubic hairline, through which the fallopian tubes are then pulled up/out in order to be closed off. Finally, the tubes are returned to their place and the incision closed.

•3) A laparotomy, also known as open tubal ligation, is considered major surgery and therefore opted less frequently. It entails making a large abdominal incision through which the fallopian tubes are pulled up/out, closed or tied shut, and then put pack. This procedure is often performed back-to-back with some other form of abdominal surgery, i.e. a C-section.

•4) Culdoscopy and Colpotomy are vaginal forms of tubal ligation used less frequently (often in cases of obese women or women with a tipped uterus) since they pose a greater risk than laparoscopic surgery. In these instances, the incision is made in the vaginal wall, and women must be in a knee-to-chest position during surgery.

What is a Hysterectomy?

In a hysterectomy, a woman's entire uterus or part of the uterus is surgically removed, either through the vagina or through the abdomen (known as vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy accordingly). While the end result of a hysterectomy is that a woman can no longer bear children, this is not usually the primary reason for performing this type of major surgery. Medical problems that may precipitate a hysterectomy include ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancer, uterine fibroids, and excessive menstrual bleeding.

Tubal Ligation Side Benefits

Research indicates that tying a woman's tubes in fact decreases her risk for ovarian cancer by approximately 30%, and that it may also lower her risk for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).


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