Female sterilisation is an effective way of preventing further pregnancies that involves preventing the ovum passing along the fallopian tubes to be fertilised by the sperm.
It is known to be about 99% effective and is usually considered if both partners are absolutely certain that they do not wish to have any more children.
Once this decision has been made, counselling is often recommended to ensure that the procedure method and effects are understood as reversal of the procedure is often difficult to achieve.
Sterilisation is generally performed by laparoscopic means or by laparotomy but can also be done by hysteroscopy, usually as a day case. Anaesthesia given will be general or local depending on methodology of the sterilisation.
The usual methods of sterilisation involve either blocking the fallopian tubes with implants or by occluding the fallopian tubes by the use of rings and clips or by tying and cutting the fallopian tubes.
Blocking the Fallopian Tubes:
Implants- This is performed by means of a hysteroscopy where implants are inserted into the fallopian tube by means of a tube being passed through the vagina, through the uterine cavity and into the fallopian tubes. It is a non- surgical means of sterilisation. The implant is left in place and causes an inflammatory reaction which causes scarring to occur. This scarring builds up and means that the fallopian tubes will not be able to allow an ovum to pass through. A scan will need to be performed after a few months to ensure that the tubes are effectively blocked. Contraception will need to be used until confirmation of successful sterilisation has been given.
Clipping/Ring method of sterilisation- This procedure is surgical and will involve small incisions being made at the umbilicus and pubic hair regions. These incisions are to allow the use of camera equipment to guide the surgeon and to allow access to the fallopian tubes so that these forms of ligature can be applied. Rings or clips are applied to a section of the fallopian tube and these are then tightened to block off any access and therefore prevent ovum passing through to the uterine cavity.
Tying- This again is done by laparoscopic means and involves the cutting of a section of the fallopian tubes and each of the ends being tied.
Before the sterilisation procedure the risks and benefits should be discussed fully. It is essential that effective contraception is used leading up to the surgery to prevent a pregnancy occurring. A pregnancy test will be performed on the day of the procedure to confirm that there is no pregnancy present.
Following surgery, recovery should be straight forward and after the first few days where discomfort will be felt normal activities should be able to be resumed. If there are wounds from surgery these need to be kept clean and the stitches if not dissolvable will need to be removed. Signs of infection and bleeding should observed for and medical help sought in event of this happening.
Contraception will need to be continued as advised by your surgeon until confirmation of successful sterilisation has been given. This is usually for 1-3 months depending on the type of sterilisation performed.
Sterilisation does not interfere with intimacy and does not mean that you will undergo menopause earlier. A useful website for your perusal which will give more in depth information is: www.nhs.uk/conditions/female-sterilisation.
Answered by the Health at Hand nurses
We’re here to help you take care of your health - whenever you need us, wherever you are, whether you're an AXA PPP healthcare member or not.
Our Ask the Expert service allows you to ask our team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives, counsellors and pharmacists about any health topic.