Possible Complications After a Tubal Ligation

Is Tubal Ligation a Safe Procedure?

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
  • 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.

Symptoms to Look Out For After Tubal Ligation

There are a few things you should look out for after your procedure that may be a sign of postoperative complications. If you experience pain that is not relieved by medication; any drainage, abnormal bleeding, redness, or swelling; fever; vomiting or persistent nausea; or dizziness or fainting spells, you should notify your doctor.

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