Tubal ligation is surgery to close the fallopian tubes. After tubal ligation, a woman is sterile. This article tells you how to care for yourself after leaving the hospital.
When You're in the Hospital
You had tubal ligation (or tying the tubes) surgery to close your fallopian tubes. These tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. After tubal ligation, a woman is sterile. In general, this means a woman can no longer get pregnant. However, there is still a small risk of pregnancy even after tubal ligation. (A similar procedure that removes the entire tube has a higher success rate in preventing pregnancy.)
Your surgeon probably made 1 or 2 small cuts in the area around your belly button. Then your surgeon inserted a laparoscope (a narrow tube with a tiny camera on the end) and other instruments into your pelvic area. Your tubes were either cauterized (burned shut) or clamped off with a small clip, a ring, or rubber bands.
What to Expect at Home
You may have many symptoms that last 2 to 4 days. As long as they are not severe, these symptoms are normal:
- Shoulder pain
- Scratchy or sore throat
- Swollen belly (bloated) and crampy
- Some discharge or bleeding from your vagina
You should be able to do most of your normal activities after 2 or 3 days. But, you should avoid heavy lifting for 3 weeks.
Follow these self-care steps after your procedure:
- Keep your incision areas clean, dry, and covered. Change your dressings (bandages) as your health care provider told you to.
- Do not take baths, soak in a hot tub, or go swimming until your skin has healed.
- Avoid heavy exercise for several days after the procedure. Try not to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (about a gallon, 5 kg, jug of milk).
- You can have sexual intercourse as soon as you feel ready. For most women, this is usually within a week.
- You may be able to return to work within a few days.
- You may eat your normal foods. If you feel sick to your stomach, try dry toast or crackers with tea.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if you have:
- Severe belly pain, or the pain you are having is getting worse and does not get better with pain medicines
- Heavy bleeding from your vagina on the first day, or your bleeding does not lessen after the first day
- Fever higher than 100.5°F (38°C) or chills
- Pain, shortness of breath, feeling faint
- Nausea or vomiting
Also call your provider if your incisions are red or swollen, become painful, or there is a discharge coming from them.
Sterilization surgery - female - discharge; Tubal sterilization - discharge; Tube tying - discharge; Tying the tubes - discharge; Contraception - tubal
Isley MM. Postpartum care and long-term health considerations. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 24.
Rivlin K, Davis AR.. Contraception and abortion. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 13.
Review Date 4/19/2022
Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.