by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Surgical Sterilization; TL; Tubal Sterilization; Sterilization, Tubal; Sterilization, Surgical)


A tubal ligation is surgery to close the fallopian tubes that lead from the ovaries to the uterus.

Options to Close Tubes
Tubal ligation
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Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done to prevent pregnancy. Ovulation and menstruation will still happen, but the cut or blocked tubes will keep the egg and sperm apart.

It should not be used as a short-term or reversible procedure.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Damage to other organs
  • Ectopic pregnancy

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery
  • Tests that will need to be done before surgery, such as a pregnancy test


The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

A small incision will be made in or near the navel. A laparoscope will be inserted. This is a long, thin tube with a camera on the end. Gas will be used to inflate the abdomen. This will make it easier to view the organs. A second cut may be made just above the pubic hair to insert an instrument for grasping the fallopian tubes. Methods used to close the tubes are:

  • Sealing by creating scar tissue
  • Applying plastic bands or clips
  • Removing a small piece of the tube

The tools will be removed. Incisions will be closed with stitches. Bandages will be applied.

The doctor may switch to an open surgery for some people. This will mean a larger incision.

How Long Will It Take?

20 to 30 minutes

Will It Hurt?

Pain and cramps are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care can help.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

Most people go home the same day. You may need to stay longer if there are problems.

At Home

It will take about a week to fully recover. Some activities may be limited.

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incisions
  • Pain that cannot be controlled with medicine
  • Lasting nausea and vomiting
  • Pain or swelling in 1 or both legs
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Missed a menstrual period

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


Office on Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services 

Planned Parenthood 


Canadian Women's Health Network 

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada 


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 208 Summary: Benefits and Risks of Sterilization. Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Mar;133(3):592-594.

Sterilization for women and men. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: Accessed August 6, 2020.

Sterilization. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: Accessed August 6, 2020.

Tubal sterilization. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Accessed August 6, 2020.

Tubal sterilization (tubal ligation). Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Accessed August 6, 2020.

Revision Information