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Contraception health centre

Sterilisation (women)

Sterilisation is a form of contraception for men and women. For men, this is called a vasectomy.

For women, sterilisation involves tubal occlusion: cutting, sealing or blocking the fallopian tubes or inserting tubal implants.

Female sterilisation is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What are fallopian implants?

Fallopian implants are a form of permanent sterilisation for women that can be performed without general anaesthesia (being put to sleep). 

How are fallopian implants placed?

Fallopian implants are tiny birth control devices that look like a spring. Doctors use a thin tube to thread an implant through the vagina, into the uterus and then into the fallopian tubes. Thus, each woman receives two implants to achieve sterilisation.

A mesh-like substance that is embedded in the implant irritates the lining of the fallopian tubes, causing scarring that over time permanently blocks the tube.

How effective are fallopian implants?

Like all birth control methods, fallopian implants are not 100% effective. Because the scarring occurs over time, women should use another form of birth control for three months after the procedure. After this the doctor will take a special X-ray to verify that the fallopian tubes are blocked and you can rely on the implants for birth control. Research by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) found that 96% of sterilised women had blocked tubes 3 months after having implants.

Do fallopian implants protect against sexually transmitted infections?

No. Sterilisation does not protect against STIs, including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). Male latex condoms provide the best protection from most STIs.

What is tubal occlusion?

Tubal occlusion (or tubal ligation), or female sterilisation, is surgery to ‘tie the tubes’ (fallopian tubes) of a woman, which causes permanent sterility by preventing transport of the egg (ovum) to the uterus. This also blocks the passage of sperm along the tube where fertilisation normally occurs.

Approximately one in five women in the UK rely on sterilisation to permanently prevent pregnancy, making it one of the most common forms of contraception.

How is tubal occlusion performed?

Tubal occlusion surgery is performed in a hospital or outpatient surgical clinic while you are anaesthetised (put to sleep). One or two small incisions (cuts) are made in the abdomen at the navel, and a device similar to a small telescope on a flexible tube (called a laparoscope) is inserted. Using instruments that are inserted through the laparoscope, the fallopian tubes are clipped, cut and tied, or sealed shut with a ring. The skin incision is then stitched closed. The patient is often able to return home a few hours after the procedure. Tubal occlusion can be performed immediately after childbirth through a small incision near the navel or during a caesarean delivery.

How effective is tubal occlusion?

Except in rare cases, this procedure is practically 100% effective. The failure rate is around one in 200. Less with certain types of clip.

Does tubal occlusion protect against sexually transmitted infections?

No. Sterilisation does not protect against STIs, including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). Male condoms provide the best protection from most STIs.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 01, 2017

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