Possible Complications After a Tubal Ligation

Biomedical illustration of a tubectomy
Biomedical illustration of a tubectomy. Getty Images/Stocktrek Images

Tubal ligation, also known as a tubectomy or as "getting one's tubes tied," is a permanent method of birth control. It involves a surgical procedure in which your fallopian tubes are clamped and blocked, or severed and sealed, either method of which prevents eggs from reaching the uterus for implantation.

Is Tubal Ligation Safe?

Death during the procedure is extremely rare, occurring in about one to four out of 100,000 tubal ligations. The cause of death is usually either hypoventilation or cardiopulmonary arrest while under general anesthesia.

Major complications are also rare, occurring in just one to three and a half percent of tubal ligations.

The overall complication rate associated with tubal ligation is approximately 0.9 to 1.6 per 100 tubal ligation procedures.

Possible Complications of Tubal Ligation

The most common complications include:

  • Bleeding from a skin incision or inside the abdomen
  • Pain after procedure
  • Infection
  • Damage to other organs inside the abdomen
  • Side effects from anesthesia
  • An ectopic pregnancy (an egg that becomes fertilized outside the uterus)
  • Incomplete closing of a fallopian tube, which can result in pregnancy

If you have diabetes or a history of previous abdominal surgery, pelvic inflammatory disease, or lung disease, or are overweight, you may have a higher risk for problems after your tubal ligation.

In the first year after a tubal ligation, it's estimated that fewer than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant. The younger you are at the time of a tubal ligation, the more likely the sterilization is to fail. If you do conceive after having a tubal ligation, there's a higher chance that the pregnancy will be ectopic.

Again, be aware that these complications are rare, but that they do exist. If you're concerned, you may want to talk to your doctor about all the contraceptive options available to you.

When to Call Your Doctor

There are a few things you should look out for after your procedure that may be a sign of postoperative complications. Notify your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Pain that is not relieved by medication
  • Any drainage, abnormal bleeding, redness, or swelling
  • Fever
  • Vomiting or persistent nausea
  • Dizziness or fainting spells

Recommended Reading

  • Types of Birth Control Methods: A look at natural birth control methods, over-the-counter (OTC) birth control methods, prescription birth control methods, permanent birth control methods, and emergency birth control.
  • Compare Birth Control Effectiveness: There are many different birth control methods, including hormonal contraception and OTC methods. Birth control effectiveness is an important and common concern in your decision to choose the method that will work best for you.
  • Before You Choose a Birth Control Method: Lifestyle and personal factors may also help you figure out the best method for you. Part of choosing a birth control method is finding the one you feel most comfortable with.
  • Factors to Consider Regarding the Effectiveness of Contraception: The reliability of any contraceptive method depends upon whether it's used consistently and correctly. That being said, the failure rates of some methods are significantly higher than others. You need to decide what level of effectiveness is most acceptable to you.
  • How To Use Birth Control Effectively: Fifty-three percent of unplanned pregnancies occur in women using contraceptives. Birth control pills and other contraceptives must be used correctly to be effective. Follow these simple steps for effective birth control and pregnancy prevention.
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