Female sterilization, which is also known as ‘having your tubes tied’, is a permanent surgical procedure to block or seal a female’s fallopian tubes (which carry the embryo from the ovaries to the womb). It works by preventing embryos from reaching the sperm. Eggs will still be released, but they’ll be absorbed naturally into the female’s body.
Sterilization is normally done on the NHS. The procedure involves the surgeon making a small cut near your belly button (laproscopy) and inserting a long, thin instrument called a laparoscope that has a camera (to help the doctor see). The tubes are then blocked by applying clips or rings, or by trying, cutting and removing a small piece of the tube.
It’s important to know that sterilization is incredibly difficult to reverse and should be thoroughly considered before going through with it and should be discussed with your partner beforehand, as either partner can be sterilized. Normally male sterilization is preferred as it’s simpler, safer and cheaper. This form of contraception is 99% effective.
Fiction: sterilization causes cancer
It’s often thought that sterilization for women can cause cancer in the reproductive organs (uterus, cervix and ovaries) but…
Female sterilization does not increase the risk of cancer. Little research has been done to investigate the relationship between breast cancer and female sterilization, but there is no hard evidence to support this.
Fiction: only certain females can take sterilization
Some females often avoid sterilization as an option because they believe that only women of a certain age or that have a certain number of children can undergo female sterilization.
All women can have female sterilization, no matter what age. No medical conditions prevent a woman from using female sterilization.
Fiction: females no longer ovulate after sterilization
It’s thought that female sterilization prevents pregnancy either by stopping ovulation or by killing a woman’s egg.
It does in fact not stop ovulation or harm a woman’s egg. An egg will still be released each month, but will instead dissolve and be reabsorbed by the body (how clever!).
Fiction: females lose their sex drive
People often think that this procedure will cause a loss of sex drive.
After sterilization nothing will change sexually in the female. The female will be able to have sex the same as before and may even find it more enjoyable as they don’t need to worry about pregnancy or condoms etc. It was found that 67% of females who reported their sterilization journey on the Lowdown stated no change in their sex drive.
Fiction: ALL of the female’s reproductive organs will be removed in the operation
It would be false to think that female sterilization involves the removal of some or all of a female’s reproductive organs – some people even think this includes removal of the vagina itself (ouch!)
During the operation, ovaries, uterus and cervix all remain in the same place as they were before. The only organ altered is the fallopian tube, which is blocked or cut.
Fiction: there are lots of health risks and side effects when undergoing female sterilization
A common myth is that female sterilization leads to major health risks or side effects, such as hysterectomy, poor health, pain and changes in menstrual bleeding or hormonal imbalances.
There are no documented medical side effects after or during female sterilization. The few complications that do occur during or after sterilization, such as infection or abscess of the wound, can generally be kept to a minimum if the right techniques are used and the procedure is performed in the right circumstances.
Local anaesthesia is normally best for female sterilisation as it has lower risks of complication than using general anaesthesia. The risks are lowest when local anaesthesia is used without sedatives. If sedatives are used, providers should closely monitor the woman’s vital signs, such as pulse rate and blood pressure. Most research finds no major changes in menstrual bleeding patterns after female sterilization. One of the Lowdown users found that they ‘ have had no long-lasting effects.’
As you can see, there are a lot of myths surrounding female sterilization and what the procedure actually involves. But this permanent method of contraception is actually quite popular with The Lowdown community.