Female sterilization is commonly performed by a surgical procedure called tubal ligation. Tubal ligation is a common choice for women who have already had children or those whose health would be risked by pregnancy. During the procedure, the fallopian tubes, which carry the fertilized eggs to the uterus, are cut or clipped, preventing the eggs from traveling to the uterus. Tubal ligation is immediately effective and should be considered a permanent form of birth control.

There are several ways to perform a tubal ligation. One way is through a small incision made below the navel, isolating each Fallopian tube, and blocking them using one of the several methods. Methods may include clips or rings, or electrical cauterization, which burns the tubes shut. Tubal ligation can also be performed through the vagina by an instrument called a laparoscope (lap -uh-ro-scope).

As with any surgery, there are some risks of complication and a small failure rate. Disadvantages are usually minor and may include mild bleeding right after the operation, the possibility of mild infection within one or two weeks of the operation, and very rarely, reconnection of the tubes, allowing a pregnancy to occur.

The advantages of sterilization include safe, permanent protection against pregnancy, few side effects, and little interference with sexual pleasure. Reversal of tubal ligation is seldom performed, so it is important for you and your partner to talk it over before making a decision.