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A tubal ligation is a type of surgery performed on a woman in order to block the fallopian tubes and is used as a form of permanent birth control. There are various types of tubal ligation procedures, designed to meet the individual needs of the patient. This type of procedure is performed a bit differently, depending on whether the woman has recently given birth or if the tubal ligation is performed as an outpatient elective surgery without a recent delivery. Each of these procedures is considered to be reasonably safe, although complications such as the development of an ectopic pregnancy are possible.
A laparoscopic abdominal tubal ligation is the most common among the various tubal ligation procedures. For this procedure, two or three small holes are surgically created in the abdomen so that small medical instruments can be inserted. The fallopian tubes can then be cut, tied, or burned so that future pregnancies cannot occur. This is generally an outpatient procedure, and recovery typically takes only a few days. By choosing this procedure type, the surgeon can perform the surgery without needing to make a large incision, dramatically reducing recovery time and lessening the risks of infection.
Another of the possible methods of tubal ligation is performed immediately after a vaginal birth and may be used when the woman is absolutely certain that she does not want to give birth to another child. The advantages to this type procedure include the fact that the woman is already in the hospital, and she should be completely healed by the time she has medical clearance to resume sexual intercourse. This type of tubal ligation procedure typically involves only one small incision, either in the naval area or inside the vagina. This procedure may be done under general anesthesia and may require one extra day in the hospital.
Still another choice of tubal ligation procedures is to have the surgery performed immediately following a C-section. This is a particularly practical choice, as the procedure can be performed relatively quickly before the doctor closes the abdomen following the surgery to deliver the baby. This type of tubal ligation does not usually require extra time in the hospital.
The primary risk of any of the tubal ligation procedures is the possibility of developing an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an egg manages to become fertilized and implants outside of the uterus, usually inside one of the fallopian tubes. This could lead to a potentially life-threatening situation if emergency surgery is not performed right away. Any woman who is considering a tubal ligation should discuss the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy with her doctor so she will know what signs to look for in the event that it does occur.
There's also a procedure called Essure, which involves inserting tiny coils into the Fallopian tubes through the cervix to prevent conception. It was approved in 2003, but is coming under fire now because women have had perforated Fallopian tubes. In fact, the activist Erin Brockovich is leading the charge to have it banned from use.
I considered this procedure as a form of permanent birth control, but with the recent problems about it coming to light, I think I made the right decision to wait and see how it did. I certainly don't want anything perforated! That's a bad outcome.