bc_tubalTubal ligation is a surgical procedure that makes a woman infertile. It is performed in a hospital. About ten percent of Canadian women rely on this method of birth control. There are two ways of doing the surgery.

  1. Abdominal incision
    Usually an anaesthetic is used to make the woman unconscious. An incision is made just above the woman’s pubic hair. The fallopian tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus are cut and sealed.
  2. Laparoscopy
    Usually an anaesthetic is used to make the woman unconscious. Laparoscopy only requires a tiny incision that can be covered with a Band-Aid. A thin tube carrying a camera is inserted and used to sever and seal the fallopian tubes.


A woman can move around after about eight hours and resume normal activities in a few days. Physical exertion should be avoided for at least a week. Infections or bleeding are possible but rare. An anaesthetic that makes a woman unconscious has more risk than a local anaesthetic.

This is a simple and effective procedure. The failure rate is very low (less than 0.1 percent) but if a tubal ligation is unsuccessful, it can increase the risk of a woman having an ectopic pregnancy. This is a dangerous condition where a fetus begins to develop in the fallopian tube instead of inside the uterus.

Some studies suggest that a woman who has a tubal ligation before age 30 has a slightly higher risk of hysterectomy in later life. Other studies suggest that this procedure has a slight protective effect against ovarian cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).


  • one-time procedure
  • very effective
  • no need to remember birth control method
  • you don’t have to interrupt sex


  • reversal is expensive, difficult and sometimes impossible
  • provides no protection against sexual transmitted infections
  • although a tubal ligation dramatically decreases the risk of any pregnancy, if the procedure fails and a pregnancy results, there is an increased risk of it being an ectopic pregnancy