Tying the tubes: It's an intimidating process to consider, right? At least that's how many women feel when it comes to the notion of giving up the option to have children. Rather than look at it in a way of "losing" something, though, we're going to look at ligation in a much more positive light. While it is a last-ditch effort for many women who just don't want any more kids, it can also be a method of permanent birth control for those who don't want children, period. The beautiful thing is that the process is personal and the decision lies in the hands of none other than the woman choosing it.
Tubal ligation is a slightly nerve-wracking term for permanently halting pregnancy. There are several different ways to do it, which we'll get into, but they're all safe. This isn't to say that they don't come with risks, but no more than any other minor medical procedure. Along with these concerns, though, come rumors that many believe to be true when considering tube-tying. Some of these are accurate while others... well, let's just say they're a stretch of the imagination. To end the stigma and provide all the hard and fast facts about tying the tubes, we're offering 20 little-known facts about everything from the initial process to the long-term benefits.
20 Doctors Won't Always Perform The Surgery
Believe it or not (but you should, because it's true), doctors can refuse to perform the surgery. This is usually a concern for younger women or those who haven't had children yet, as the last thing a doctor wants is to be responsible for taking away a woman's right to become pregnant. Many doctors are hesitant about doing the surgery for any women under the age of 30, even more so if you've never had children before. While it's not impossible to have it done, this may require just a few more opinions and finding the right fit for your personal needs.
19 There Are Several Ways Of Doing It
Speaking of methods, here's where we get into the nitty-gritty of tubal ligation. It has been affectionately coined with the term "tying" the tubes, but there are more methods than just that one. Fallopian tubes can either be cauterized so that both are permanently sealed, banded and cut so that there's no risk of accidental pregnancy or simply banded so that tubes are not completely severed. Additionally, a new method called Essure has been introduced to the medical world, but we'll get into that later. Each of these methods has its own benefits, which should be discussed with a medical professional.
18 It Can Affect Aunt Flow For Some Women
Just because a woman's tubes are technically tied doesn't mean that she suddenly stops getting her monthly visitor. As sad as we might be to hear that Aunt Flo just won't give up, you can rest easy in knowing that you're guarded against pregnancy (at least 99.5%, anyway!). Some women do notice that their cramping becomes slightly more significant or things become a bit heavier down there, and it's completely normal. Every woman is different and will experience a different outcome post-procedure. For some women, their doctors may recommend remaining on birth control in order to control the "Flo" aspect rather than the actual pregnancy aspect.
17 It's Not As Easy As Permanent Ligation For Men
As simple as we've made this process sound, it's still not as simple as a man getting a vasectomy. There are several reasons for this (and yes we agree, it is unfair that guys get the easy way out!). For starters, ligation for men is done outside the abdominal region, so there's no need to be put under in order to actually perform the procedure. Plus, on top of this, a vasectomy is statistically more effective than a tubal ligation. All jokes aside, a simple "snip snip" is all it takes to prevent an eager swimmer from meeting up with an unfertilized egg. Lastly, the final blow is that a vasectomy is, in fact, often cheaper than tubal ligation. Sorry, ladies.
16 Surprise! Your Abdomen Will Likely Be Pumped With Gas
Don't worry, this doesn't mean that you'll be expelling a ton of gas out (quite the opposite, actually). It does mean that before the doctor dives in, he or she will be pumping gas into your abdomen in order to see what's going on inside. Imagine it like blowing up a balloon — there's no way for you to see what's inside before the balloon is inflated, right? But once the balloon has air in it, everything becomes a bit more expansive and clear to see with the increased room. As gross as it sounds, your abdominal cavity works in very much the same way.
15 It's Permanent: There's No Reversing The Procedure
While a procedure to prevent pregnancy can sound like a dream come true for women who don't want any more (or any) children, it is a permanent surgery. There's usually no going back when it comes to cutting or tying the tubes and attempting to reverse it can be pricey and comes with its own risks. Even if a procedure is done to attempt to reverse the ligation, there's no guarantee that a pregnancy will result from the reversal. It's a decision that must be considered wisely and entered into with full certainty, or not entered into at all if there's even the smallest thought of children in the future.
14 Nothing Will Safeguard You Against Transmitted Diseases
Just because a woman has had her tubes tied does not mean that she's suddenly safeguarded against anything and everything. The procedure can be like magic for those who don't want kids but is not actually magic and is not a substitute for any form of barrier birth control. If you are still active, it's recommended that you stick with contraception that will keep both you and your partner safe, regardless of a tubal ligation. Just because a woman's uterus is holding up a stop sign for strong swimmers doesn't mean that it has roadblocks up for anything else that can be shared.
13 It Can Be Helpful As A Preventative Measure For Ovarian Cancer
The recovery is relatively easy according to women who have had the process done and is nowhere near anything such as labor recovery. According to Planned Parenthood, recovery time can vary from woman to woman but will most likely have you feeling a bit sore for several days post-surgery. After about a week or so, you'll start feeling like your old self, but this could happen sooner for those in good health. Regardless, it's imperative that women avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and anything that could potentially cause problems with the incision site. More cramping than usual, some bleeding, and soreness are the most common post-surgery effects.
12 Most Doctors Will Recommend And IUD First, For Good Reason
There are many (many) people on social media who will gladly share unpleasant stories about IUDs, the process of having them inserted, and how they've gone awry... Don't listen to them. The only "stories" a woman should listen to are those which come from the mouth of her gynecologist because they know far better than Missy on FB.
As someone who has had an IUD for two years, I can personally attest to the fact that it has increased my quality of life far more than the pill did. The procedure is unbelievably quick, and cramping, discomfort, and Aunt Flow will likely disappear fully within two or three months. IUDs are a great long-term birth control method with one-tenth the number of hormones as many pills and provide a pretty good glimpse into life with tubal ligation.
11 Tubes Can Grow Back Together — But This Is Incredibly Rare
It's possible but doesn't happen often. Part of the reason that tubal ligation is never 100% effective is that, as human beings, we are capable of immense healing. Since tying or cutting tubes is somewhat unnatural of a process, we sometimes attempt to heal ourselves in order to naturally reverse what has been done. It just happens. This can be tested by making routine trips to the gynecologist and having them check the fallopian tubes to ensure that everything has remained as it should have post-surgery. Just like anything else, this is one of the risks of the procedure. This shouldn't sway anyone's decision but it's something to take note of and discuss with a professional.
10 Let's Talk About Essure, The No-Cut Sterilization Procedure That Once Was
Unlike IUDs, Essure has received plenty of backlash for its side effects. The metal spring pictured is the same metal spring that is inserted into the fallopian tube in order to prevent future pregnancy. The process is very similar to having an IUD inserted, but Essure goes much higher and is left in permanently. The idea is that scar tissue will grow around the coil and prevent anything from getting through the tubes. While this method sounds simple, it does take at least three months to go into full effect. Additionally, complications may arise if the coil moves or migrates, leading to further issues. It is safer than surgery, however, and does not require any downtime, recovery, or anesthesia.
9 So, What Are The Chances Of Getting Pregnant Post-Ligation?
The chances of becoming pregnant after a woman has had her tubes tied actually decreases as she gets older. According to Healthline, women who are younger than 28 have a five percent chance of becoming pregnant, women between 28 and 33 have a two percent chance, and women who are over 33 have only a one percent chance of conceiving.
The chance of pregnancy also increases slightly after a decade or so but will always be more prevalent for women who had the procedure done at a young age. Surprisingly, some women find that they may have already been pregnant just prior to the procedure, therefore, most opt to go in immediately after their visit from Aunt Flo.
8 The Procedure Is Surprisingly Short
As stated before, the process of having tubes tied is very, very short. In 30 minutes or less—the time it takes to have a physical—a woman will be stitched up and ready to go home. It's an outpatient procedure that's minor in terms of surgery with little recovery time compared to many others. In fact, the incision site is so small that scarring is often a non-issue when it comes to healing. The reason for this is that the surgery is done with the use of a laparoscope, which allows doctors to see what they're doing without the need for large incisions. Tubes can be closed via the laparoscope or with a secondary incision, also very minor.
7 Let's Talk About The Constipation Issue
Things can get a bit... strange, post-ligation. Not only have you just had minor surgery on your abdomen but there begs the question of what to do when you need to do number two. It's obviously going to feel a bit awkward to use any type of muscle down there and as with any post-surgery process, constipation can be a side effect. A doctor will likely recommend stool softeners or strong fiber to help ease things out but this feeling is completely normal. It will feel weird at first to squat and push but don't worry — this will pass... literally.
6 There Could Be Post-Surgery Side Effects, But They're Minimal
It's expected that after an abdominal procedure—especially one in such a sensitive area— there will be some side effects during recovery. The great news is that recovery usually only lasts a few days, but it doesn't come pain-free. Many women might notice that their cramps are going all out, they might be achy in that region, and there could be some discharge with the Essure procedure. Additionally, women might notice that they're slightly dizzy, feel a bit sick, or just don't feel well and are tired in the days following. This is completely normal and serves as a reminder of one thing: That you should take it easy and allow yourself to heal in the proper time.
5 Whether You Realize It Or Not, It Could Affect Your Partner, Too
Who are we kidding? If you're in a relationship long enough, just about anything can affect your partner. However, tying your tubes is a decision that's rooted in both an emotional and a physical place, making it twice as important to discuss and truly accept before you go through with it. If you have a supportive partner who is happy because you're happy and is supportive of any decision you make, then that's a beautiful thing. If the case is the opposite, then a sit-down with your doctor as well as your partner is definitely necessary. The last thing anyone wants to do is to make a decision they regret because it damaged their relationship.
4 Costs Can Vary From Nothing To Thousands
The big question mark in all of this, the variable, as we like to say, is insurance. Depending on the type of plan a woman has, the procedure can cost absolutely nothing as it's a form of "birth control," or it can cost thousands. Although it is considered a method of contraception, it's still a medical procedure which means that it must be done by a surgeon, in an outpatient center. Everything from medical equipment to time and anesthesia cost money, all of which insurance either can cover or can refuse to cover. The best bet is to call your insurance beforehand to see exactly what's covered and what's not.
3 Your Libido Will Be Gone: This Is A Wild Myth
Don't throw your hands up just yet — the good news is that Medicaid, as well as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), do cover the procedure in most cases. In order to go through Medicaid to have the procedure done, a consent form must be filled out and sent in at least 30 days before the surgery is to take place. Knowing this beforehand can save a lot of time when it comes to planning and the disappointment of knowing it will take at least one month. ACA guidelines may vary and it's best to consult with your personal plan before deciding on the process that's right for you, should you consider tying the tubes.
2 Certain Planned Parenthood Locations Can Perform Tubal Ligation
There's more good news! Planned Parenthood offers many health services to women, and tubal ligation is one of them. It is possible that you could be able to get the cost of the procedure lowered as well, depending on the circumstances as well as your financial situation. The factors to take into consideration are age, cost, and reasoning. Many centers will only do the procedure if a woman is over a certain age and having a low-cost surgery is not always an option. Additionally, the reasoning must be something more substantial than not wanting to consider other birth control methods. Participating Planned Parenthood centers can be found here.
1 Stock Up On Some Cough Drops For The After-Effects Of Surgery
You're probably wondering why on earth you would need cough drops if the surgery was performed on your abdomen and the answer is simple: Anesthesia. During the process— should a woman choose to go the anesthesia route— a tube is placed in her throat while she's under. The process of taking this out and having it in for 30 minutes or more can be a bit uncomfortable (not that you'd know while you're under) and may cause some soreness afterward. The first time I'd experienced this was while getting my wisdom teeth removed and trust me, cough drops, lemon tea with honey, and steam are your best friends through recovery.