Surgical sterilization is a safe, highly effective, permanent, and convenient form of contraception. The most common surgical sterilization procedure for women is called a tubal ligation or having the "tubes tied." The fallopian tubes are attached to the uterus and adjacent to the ovaries (figure 1). The fallopian tubes are the site where the egg becomes fertilized by the male's sperm prior to traveling to the uterus. In tubal sterilization, the fallopian tubes are separated or sealed shut, thus preventing the egg and sperm from meeting.
Sterilization may be performed in one of several ways, depending upon where the procedure is done (office versus operating room) and when it is done (after childbirth or at another time).
- Laparoscopic sterilization is done in the operating room any time other than after childbirth. It requires general or regional (eg, spinal) anesthesia. (See 'Laparoscopic sterilization' below.)
- Minilaparotomy is performed in an operating room, using general or regional anesthesia, often one to two days after a woman gives birth. (See 'Minilaparotomy' below.)
- Hysteroscopic sterilization may be done in the office or operating room, requires only local anesthesia, and is done at a time other than after childbirth. (See 'Hysteroscopic sterilization' in link below.)