Female sterilization is a permanent procedure to prevent pregnancy. It works by blocking the fallopian tubes. When women choose not to have children, sterilization can be a good option. It’s a slightly more complex and expensive procedure than male sterilization (vasectomy).
Female sterilization is most common in developing countries. Women ages 40–44 years are more likely than all other age groups to use female sterilization, with 51 percent choosing it as their primary birth control method.
There are two main types of female sterilization: surgical and nonsurgical. The surgical procedure is tubal ligation, in which the fallopian tubes are cut or sealed. It’s sometimes referred to as getting your tubes tied. The procedure is usually performed using a minimally invasive surgery called laparoscopy. It can also be done just after a vaginal delivery or cesarean delivery (commonly referred to as a C-section). Nonsurgical procedures use devices placed in the fallopian tubes to seal them. The devices are inserted through the vagina and uterus, and the placement doesn’t require an incision.
Sterilization blocks or seals the fallopian tubes. This prevents the egg from reaching the uterus and also keeps the sperm from reaching the egg. Without fertilization of the egg, pregnancy can’t occur.
Tubal ligation is effective immediately after the procedure. Nonsurgical sterilization may take up to three months to be effective as the scar tissue forms. Results for both procedures are typically permanent with a small risk of failure.