Possible Complications After a Tubal Ligation

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.

Patient sitting on hospital bed, rear view
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Is Tubal Ligation Safe?

Death during the procedure is extremely rare, occurring in about 1 to 2 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 less than 2% of tubal ligations.

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

Possible Complications

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

Deciding on Birth Control Methods

You have a range of choices for types of birth control methods. These include natural birth control methods, over-the-counter (OTC) methods, prescription birth control methods, permanent birth control methods, and emergency birth control.

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.

Birth control effectiveness is an important and common concern in your decision to choose the method that will work best for you. These methods differ in effectiveness, even within the type category.

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.

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  1. Panelli DM, Phillips CH, Brady PC. Incidence, diagnosis and management of tubal and nontubal ectopic pregnancies: a reviewFertil Res and Pract. 2015;1(15). doi:10.1186/s40738-015-0008-z

  2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Female Sterilization. Updated April 9, 2019.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Sterilization by laparoscopy: When to call the doctor. Updated September 26, 2019.