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What It's Like to Get a Tubal Ligation

It's Not Just a Snip

I got my tubes tied when I was 33 years old, right after the birth of my daughter. She was my third child, and even though I wasn't entirely sure that I was "done" with the whole baby-making thing, I knew that my husband and I couldn't handle any more.

I became pregnant the first time while I was on birth control. I did not know that antibiotics and birth control didn't like each other, and I unwittingly asked them to play nicely. They didn't; the antibiotics won, and I found myself in an ER in the middle of the night, writhing from the sharp pain of a kidney infection, and thinking that surely I was hallucinating when the nurse told me that I was six weeks along.

That baby — my boy — was unexpected, but wow, was he wanted. I didn't even know how much until I started to embrace the pregnancy. His brother came along five years later, and their sister three years after that. I had easy, glorious pregnancies. I loved being pregnant. That surprised me, but I did.

But after three I knew that our budget and our sanity were both at the tipping point. I knew that relying on birth control pills wasn't going to cut it (no pun intended), and I broached the subject of a vasectomy with my then-husband. He wasn't having it; the thought of having something sharp anywhere near his junk was just too much for him.

We reasoned that since I'd be in the hospital and that there would already be ample activity in that general region, that having it done right after Erin's birth was not only smart but efficient. I told my doctor at one of my monthly appointments that I was thinking about tubal ligation; she said "great," jotted a note in my chart, and told me that it was "no problem." That was it; no questions about whether or not I was really ready, no caution about what it might feel like, no warnings about anything.

The big day of Erin's birth came, and rather than doing the procedure then, the staff decided that it wouldn't be my ob-gyn who would take care of me but her partner. So, the next morning before my then-husband had even arrived, they wheeled me into the operating room and gave me that happy shot that made the world go fuzzy and dark.

When I woke up, I felt fine at first. But that was before I moved. I was desperate to go to the bathroom and didn't think that it would be an ordeal. I tried to get out of bed to go, and I fell to the floor. The pain I felt shooting through my midsection was unbearable; childbirth and recovery was a picnic compared to this. The nurse helped brace me with a pillow and plied me with painkillers. She taught me to hold a pillow against my stomach if I tried to move. She said, "They never tell us how much it hurts. I wish they would." She was an angel.

She was the one who explained the procedure to me. She told me that they pumped me full of gas to inflate my insides, then poked, prodded, and rearranged my innards until they found what they needed. She explained that they cauterized my tubes, then moved everything else back to where it was supposed to be. She told me that's why I hurt so badly, and warned me that recovering from a tubal ligation was worse than childbirth. She was right.

Best move ever or recipe for regret?

Probably a little of both. Once I recovered, I was glad to not have to worry about birth control. The finality of the procedure brought both relief and regret. I was at an age where I wasn't likely to have more children, but knowing that now I could never change my mind saddened me. The end of possibility saddened me. The closing of a chapter of life saddened me, because it was such a harsh reminder of just how quickly time is passing. There is an entire different conversation to be had about the emotional aftermath of a tubal ligation; I'm only thinking of the physical aspects in this post. 

I do wish that my then-husband would have had a vasectomy instead. From what I understand, that is a minor procedure whereas a tubal ligation is a surgical procedure. I was put under anesthesia, which in my case did not harm me but increased the potential for disaster. My biggest regret, though, was that I didn't ask enough questions. I was too shy to talk to other women and find out from them how it really felt when they were done. I might have made a different decision had I reached out.

Or I might have just brought my own pillow.

Image Source: Shutterstock
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Molly14520470 Molly14520470 2 years
Oooh. I did want to say the sore throat from the tube was about 2 day pain....forgot about that!
Molly14520470 Molly14520470 2 years
I've had TWO tubal ligations. First one - was right after my 2nd C-section & I was so busy recovering from that I didn't even notice the tubal.......until I had an ectopic pregnancy 9 years later. Shocking to say the least. And heartbreaking. And emotional. I just had a tubal AGAIN 5 days ago & besides some sharp shoulder pain (gas), this was no big deal. The belly button area is certainly tender but NOTHING like breaking a bone (did that this summer too) or childbirth. Totally manageable with Tylenol & Ibuprofen staggered. And I only did that for 1 day. I'm absolutely shocked by this horror story! Mine was simple & compared to broken bones, C-section recoveries and ectopic gas bloat....this was a BREEEEZE.
KimberlyWheeler KimberlyWheeler 2 years
I just had a tubal ligation three days ago. I weighed the pros and cons of having one. I considered the Essure procedure but heard more negative than positive. My gynecologist who is very good said he had performed over 85 Essure procedures and only one patient that he knows of had some sort of difficulty which he wa able to rectify. I wanted my husband to get a vasectomy but he did not want to go through with it. I felt he should have want some type of birth control for us being that he had four children before being married to me. I had one prior to our marriage and then we had one together in this marriage. I am almost 42 and decided it was time to shut the baby making machine down so i had it done. I still was contemplating jumping off the table while waiting because I was next door to Labor and Delivery room where I had my son five years ago. the thought of never having a child again even if I wanted to sadden me. It didn't help when I woke up I heard babies first cries when they were born. At that point it was too late. Anyways as far as after the surgery I woke up with some pain. The nurse gave me Percocet and Advil. I dozed off a little but longer. I woke up ready to go home. I was really hungry since I didn't eat after midnight. My throat was a little scratchy from breathing tube down throat. A little pain in right shoulder and head ache but I took a pill for that and slept the remainder of the day away. The next day was hard getting up. The navel area was very sensitive. It hurt to get our the bed. I was able to take a shower after 24 hours. I did not have a lot of discharge which is normal. And take my bandaid off. My stitches which will dissolve you could barely see. My doctor did a wonderful job. From what ive been reading you need at least a week of rest and no strenuous activities. Normal things you would do around the house like washing clothes, bending, walking fast will not happen right after. I don't even want anything touching in that area right now. I don't want my stitches to bust either. Thankful no horror stories but will be glad to get back to my original routines.
ChetMC ChetMC 2 years
You really need to research your options carefully, and be aware that there is never a guarantee that your operation or procedure will yield the best, or even the typical, outcome. My husband had a vasectomy. His recovery was terrible and he ended up with post-vasectomy pain syndrome (which neither of us had ever heard of). Everybody had told us to go the vasectomy route though because it would be so much easier than me getting a tubal ligation, and that side effects are practically unheard of.
ChetMC ChetMC 2 years
You really need to research your options carefully, and be aware that there is no a guarantee that your operation or procedure will yield the best possible outcome. My husband had a vasectomy. His recovery was terrible and he ended up with post-vasectomy pain syndrome. Everybody told us to go the vasectomy route though because it would be so much easier than me getting a tubal ligation, and that side effects are practically unheard of.
TerriScofield TerriScofield 2 years
I'm sorry that your experience was like that. My husband and I decided that after our second child at 22yrs old that I would have a tubal ligation (tie,cut, burn--if fact I told the doctor to take whatever needed). For us, we knew that children were expensive and we wanted to give our children more than just what they needed. My doctor tried to talk us out of it, he said what if you want more kids, we said we would adopt at that time. My procedure was nothing, my labors and deliveries were a piece of cake, this was too. Granted everyone is different in many aspects. I bounced back immediately, I remember waking up and I had a morpheine drip, the first thing I did was buzz the nurse and tell her to take that off. She said you will have lots of pain, I said give me Tylenol 3, two days later I went home like nothing happened. Eight years later, I had some scar tissue causing issues, the doc said he could remove it, I asked for a hysterectomy. He said, what if you want more kids? I said that he asked me that 8yrs ago and I have the same answer, I will adopt if I want more. So I went through with the hysterectomy, a little slower recovery, but definitely not regrettable. No hormone pills, all normal. 2yrs later, my husband and I adopted our third child, an 8yr old boy. He was a blessing that God sent our way. Its been almost 15 yrs since my hysterectomy, my three beautiful kids are grown to be amazing young adults. I don't regret any of the health choices I've made. My main point being, everyone is different in their experiences. We all make choices, right or wrong, just getting facts, 2nd opinions and the pros/cons of it all. Good luck in your future, I truly hope all bad experiences are behind you.
CoMMember13631151283972 CoMMember13631151283972 2 years
I appreciate your honesty as I have had one when I was 22. I knew I couldn't afford another child and I thought it was the best solution. The nurse was amazing and asked me several times ,over the course my pregnancy, if i was certain. Of course I had already made up my mind and went through with it. What I regret the most is not finding out the side effects. Those are mild to severe. You can have unfertilized eggs grow partially in your tubes and have a greater risk of cysts developing on your ovaries. The consequence came 5 years later when I went to the er for severe pain in my abdomen and swelling in strange places. The er doctor thought I was constipated ,and that is what they went with, but on closer inspection by my doctor they found a 21 cm cyst on my ovaries and several partially developed eggs lining my tubes. I can not remember the correct term they used for the eggs but I had to investigate the meaning on my own. My only options are take the pain until I can't bear it anymore or get a hysterectomy. I'm dealing with the pain for now.
DianeNoland28307 DianeNoland28307 2 years
@vdburg ... I so agree with you. Even though my own tubal ligation was easy as pie and I have no regrets, I do think it's high time men stepped up to take responsibility for birth control, especially after they've had two or three children (our planet is over populated as it is). As for the "less of a man" thing, what balderdash and I applaud your husband! I remember my mother telling me my dad had a vasectomy after my brother was born (there's just the two of us and also this was more than 70 years ago! My dad was very progressive), she said he was MORE of a man after that. It was a little more information than I really wanted to know. LOL
vdburg vdburg 2 years
After my third pregnancy, a repeat cesarean during which my OB/GYN told me that my uterus was stretched so thin it was "transparent" and future pregnancies would be unsafe, my husband volunteered to have a vasectomy so that I wouldn't have to undergo another obstetrical procedure. I am so grateful to him for it. I know that this article is about not asking questions before a medical procedure, and the shameful casualness of some doctors who don't think to give you information unless you do ask, but I also see it as an example of how some men wrongly feel that a vasectomy is an unusually large sacrifice that will result in them being "less of a man" (something my brother-in-law actually said to my husband). I was fortunate enough to have a husband who saw it as a small sacrifice to make for the sake of my own health. The procedure was quick, simple, and the recovery relatively easy compared to what I've heard about some recoveries from tubal ligation. Husbands need to start manning up about the permanent birth control issue and stop being so selfish.
Aurora14902311 Aurora14902311 2 years
I haven't had a tubal but I have given it some thought. Ive had more than my fair share of miscarriages and I have two beautiful boys already. However pregnancy itself for me is an absolute nightmare. everythign swells and I have constant cramping in my stomach... my back ends up feelign like it bowing in half due to pregnancy and scholiosis together... adding in arthritis and flatfoot anf my hip displatia... I have spoken with my beloved on this issue extensively. He thinks he should get a vasectomy. I hesitate to this... however seeing more painful periods and heavier and all the dangers I may let him do it... though I don't want to. however last I checked a vasectemy never killed a man. just, I worry.
CeciliaBailey CeciliaBailey 2 years
See I knew all the basics about my tubal. I asked every question there is to ask. I went through my options carefully. I delivered to another doctor who was working the hospital that night. Waited for my doctor to have an opening. I knew I would be in pain (although the shoulder pain was pretty bad) I did not know anything about PTLS.(post tubal litigation syndrome) No one told me it was even possible. I got horrible depression (not from realizing what i've done because i went in knowing i wanted that, also was not baby blues) My lovely 3 day light periods have turned into massive 10 day affairs. I lost about half my hair leaving bald spots. I had horrible insomnia. Mind you 6 months of sleeping an hour or 2 isn't a fun thing, with an 8 month old and a 2 year old. I went to my regular doctor and explained to her I was going through a pretty bad depression and had insomnia. She put me on a depression med which did not help. I did my own research to find out what my problem was. Basically in the end they had to put me on birth control pills to reestablish my hormone levels. The only other option was to undo the tubal, which I was not game for. I know PTLS isn't all that common but it also isn't that rare. Be cautious of your choice if you made it and know what it looks like so you can be prepared to get on birth control sooner that I was able to.
GraceAgiusBorg GraceAgiusBorg 2 years
I had 3 ceseareans and after my third I opted for a tubal ligation. I was in no more pain then what abnormal c-section recovery is like. If you want to make life altering decisions you need to be informed. I was a public patient at the royal women's hospital in melbourne and they asked me at nearly every appointment if I was sure and did I know the risks involved. Seeing as though you can still have. An ectopic pregnancy.
MeaganBombardieri55777 MeaganBombardieri55777 2 years
Yes I had a bilateral tubal ligation ( tubes clamped). I was 34 at the time and now am 38 and have a 14 year old daughter, 11 year old son and nearly 7 month old daughter which was a surprise after having my tubes tied, she was born naturally. But I didn't go through all that pain you went through. Only extra heavy periods that make you feel like your bleeding to death. Might Sound like an exaggeration, but, I'm sure some of you women now what I was going through. After our last baby nearly 7 months old, my periods are back to normal and I am back to the pill. It always seem to work. The doctor apparently double-clamped one tube and single clamped the other tube. I like to joke and say they must have run out of clamps and that why the doctor single clamped the other tube. But my husband and I and our older kids we all love this baby girl, she was meant to be. But, I would like to say I don't remember the doctor telling me before my procedure that Tubal ligation isn't 100%, apparently neither is a vasectomy. The only thing that is 100% is a hysterectomy. I would like to get the statistics on Australian mums that have had babies after Tubal ligation. It just for my interest sake. Anyway sorry that you went through all that pain.
AmandaGowin40888 AmandaGowin40888 2 years
I had the very some problems as you and I have told all my friends that they need to ask more questions. I have also had an AWEFUL time with my periods since getting my tubes tied and really, it takes away from my life to be in so much pain every month. I do wish the doctor would have given me more information.
KimberlyBauder KimberlyBauder 2 years
I had my tubes tied a few weeks after a second miscarriage. I already had 4 children... the entire factory needed to be shut down. It was painful, but not unbearable. Skip ahead a few years and I was in emergency surgery for a tubal pregnancy. It's dangerous okay? Women can die from this. At the time, the stats were 1 in 300 women will get pregnant after a tubal ligation. Only 1 in 1000 of those pregnancies are viable, so don't get all smarmy eyed for the miracle baby because it rarely if ever is. Tubal ligations take at least a few weeks to recover while vasectomy takes days. If a pregnancy does happen after vasectomy - no one has a near miss with death. If the guy is concerned he will not be able to impregnate another if it does not work out with you... please do point out that even if it doesn't work out, he still has children, just as you do. I never did get that line of thinking. The choice is the same no matter what sex you are.
CarolMorrisey CarolMorrisey 2 years
When my mom nagged me to get a tubal after my third child, I said I'd rather have another baby than more surgery. And I did. That daughter is the joy of my life, and I don't know what I'd do without her. I also know a girl who was conceived after her mom had a tubal. We're all happy she's alive too. We need to remember that all surgery has risks and that even tubals have a failure rate. In light of my experience, I suggest that in the absence of a serious medical condition, it's better to leave the choice to God. He knows which children should be born, no matter what we plan.
AdrianeAdams AdrianeAdams 2 years
Obviously? Women's bodies and their physical and emotional responses are not all the same. My doctor told me that many women complain of heavier periods after a tubal. But not all do. I would think that pain would also vary from woman to woman.
JoyChauncey JoyChauncey 2 years
I had my tubes tied after a normal delivery and I had no problem with what you said you experienced at all and even my periods were normal and I had no stomach pain whatsoever. It was obviously the c-section that hurt so much.
CherylSchrand CherylSchrand 2 years
Men say its because of pain, etc.. but the truth is, they feel like it will make them less of a man and maybe, somewhere in the back of their mind, they may think, if the marriage doesn't last, they will want more kids in the future. If a man doesn't want it, then I would re-think the situation. Tell him to go grow a PAIR and get over himself. I divorced mine and met a real man who had a vasectomy from his previous marriage, she didnt want birth control. And buy a couple boxs of real good condoms.
CherylSchrand CherylSchrand 2 years
I was 23 when I had my Tubal. Was a breeze. I had a spinal for my childs birth so was already numb. It was quick and my Doctor went in thru my belly button. Had some pain afterwards but alot was from giving birth. I have never regreted it!! If you doctor did not do it right after giving birth or thru the belly button, then something is wrong. Nowadays they can do only 3 small incisions to do a hystorectomy and your up and walking. No excuses for pain with these proceedures anymore.
HSRisinger HSRisinger 2 years
First, I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience. Second, I feel after reading your story, and so many comments after is, that women are really deciding to do this procedure without really talking to their doctors. I recently underwent sterilization after my 4th child. I have a 16 and 14 year old with first husband, and a 4 year old and a 2 month old with my current husband. I am 43 years old, all were conceived and delivered the old fashioned way. I did consent to tubal ligation in the event of a c-section with this last one, but that didn't come to be and my doctor was glad. He recommended, and after learning so much from you and more, a different procedure called the Essure procedure where you get coils inserted into your fallopian tubes and scar tissue grows around them to create tubal blockage. It is 99.8 something effective and surgery free, hormone free, and was slightly uncomfortable. Recovery time was almost zero...I was taking care of all 4 kids, still nursing and regular life after I left the doctor office. I don't work for them...but I highly recommend anyone considering getting their tubes tied, to ONE: look into Essure. TWO: wait until you are a little older. You never know what life has in store for you.
AmyHendricks AmyHendricks 2 years
I had my tubes tied at the same time I had my csection for my second child. No one warned me about the recovery time for it. It took about an extra month for me to fully recoop and it felt like I had been hit in the stomach w/ a baseball bat. Definitely don't regret it. I just wish the doctors had given me more warning. I ended up taking two extra trips to the dr to get checked out because I thought something was wrong when it was just 'normal'
missnanny missnanny 2 years
A man doesn't want to endure the pain or have a doctor near their "junk" but doesn't think about what the woman goes through.
AprilDewald AprilDewald 2 years
I had a tubal after my fourth child. I thought 2 girls and 2 boys was perfect. I had that done when I was 27. They cut, burned and tied them after they delivered my second son via c-section. I did not notice any addition pain. I went in for my yearly examine 22 months later to find out that I was pregnant. What a whirlwind of emotions I went through along with the rest of my family. It was a healthy pregnancy until 30 weeks when I thought I had a yeast infection. My water broke and I delivered my 3 lb. 3 oz. son six hours later via c-section (he was my third c-section). The doctor informed me that my tubes "looked" like they should from having the tubal 3 years ago. They redid my tubal and I had to go in six weeks later to make sure they were indeed blocked, they were. To this day when my period is late, I still wonder. Could I be?
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