The side effects of getting your tubes tied can vary, and as with all health decisions, it's a good idea do your homework before making decisions. Compared to many other methods of birth control, such as contraceptive pills or implants, tubal ligation has few side effects. However, it's important to know about these potential symptoms and risks before you choose whether to get this procedure. Effects can occur during or soon after the procedure, while some affect your future fertility.
Anytime you have major surgery, your body is at risk for infection, bleeding, accidental damage to other organs, and other potential complications. The actual percentages vary, based on several factors. According to the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the risk of major surgical complications in a laparoscopic tubal ligation procedure is less than one percent. Women who smoke, are overweight, or have certain health conditions may be at increased risk for these surgery-related complications. You can reduce the risk of complications by following your doctor's orders before and after the procedure.
Anesthesia Side Effects
When you have any major surgery, including tubal ligation, you will receive local or general anesthesia. Such intervention is associated with an array of side effects. According to American Society of Anesthesiologists, these side effects may include the following:
- Adverse reactions
Procedure-Specific Risks and Complications
Some complications are specific to tubal ligation and similar surgeries. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include uterine perforations or tears and prolonged pain in the pelvic area or abdomen. Your risks of these side effects may increase if you've had a cesarean section birth, pelvic infection, or other pelvic area surgery in the past because these can cause scarring, which increases risks during a tubal ligation.
More common, less serious side effects may occur for a short period after surgery and include the following:
- Swollen or distended stomach
- Blood clots
- Shoulder pain
- Painful intercourse
These side effects are usually mild enough to be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication like Advil.
Post-Tubal Ligation Syndrome
In some cases, post-tubal ligation syndrome may result. The syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that sometimes occur in women who have undergone surgical tubal ligation. The syndrome includes the following symptoms:
- Menstrual irregularity
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Anxiety or depression
- Decreased libido
- Thinning hair and fingernails
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Uterine prolapse
Various sources report pregnancy after tubal ligation is rare but does happen. About 18 in 1,000 women report a pregnancy within 10 years of having their tubes tied. The complication here is that women who become pregnant after having their tubes tied are at a greater risk for an ectopic pregnancy. Furthermore, women can experience problems becoming pregnant if they have a tubal reversal after having their tubes tied, so that's something to consider as well.
When to Be Concerned
If you have had a tubal ligation procedure and are experience any of the following side effects or symptoms, it's important that you consult with your doctor as soon as possible:
- Missed menstrual period, breast tenderness or other pregnancy symptoms
- Persistent pain on one side of your abdomen
These symptoms may indicate an ectopic pregnancy.
Is Tubal Ligation Safe?
In general, tubal ligation is a safe procedure. All of the above side effects are rare, but it's important to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor. A full health examination is always recommended before undergoing this surgical procedure, and your doctor will be able to discuss any side effects that may relate to your personal health.