Laparoscopic contraception is a common procedure used for women who don’t want children in the future. It’s is a permanent method of contraception also known as tubal ligation – a method of sterilisation commonly referred to as ‘getting your tubes tied’.
How Does Laparoscopic Contraception Prevent Pregnancy?
The fallopian tubes work as a transport device, delivering eggs from the ovaries to the uterus for fertilisation as part of a woman’s reproductive cycle. Laparoscopic contraception involves cutting, tying and sealing shut the fallopian tubes to stop eggs from moving into the uterus, preventing fertilisation and pregnancy.
The procedure does not affect the ovaries, so periods keep happening as normal, with the ovaries continuing to release eggs and hormones. It also does not cause menopause, or affect a woman’s sex drive.
Why Do Women Choose This Procedure?
Laparoscopic contraception is highly effective, and considered a permanent method of contraception. It can be reversed in some women, although reversal success rates are low.
Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your decision to undergo this procedure. For women who are unsure if they still want children, a number of other methods of contraception are available, such as oral contraceptive pills, hormonal injections, barrier methods (condoms or a diaphragm), or a vasectomy (for a male partner).
For women who no longer want children, laparoscopic contraception is a safe and convenient form of contraception. However, it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so safe sex is still encouraged for women who have had the procedure.
How is Laparoscopic Contraception Performed?
Laparoscopic techniques are minimally invasive, which means reduced pain and faster recovery times for our patients.
Before your procedure, an anaesthesiologist will visit you to take a medical history and insert an intravenous line for drugs to be administered. Then you will be moved onto a gurney and made comfortable, eventually becoming unconscious.
During the procedure, one to three small incisions are made around the umbilicus (belly button). At Northside Gynaecology we use a unique single cut technique at the umbilicus where no other cuts are needed on the abdomen.
This incision allows the insertion of a thin tube containing a laparoscopic camera (a laparoscope) that is gently guided into the abdomen. The laparoscope sends images to a screen, giving an internal view of the operative site.
The abdomen is also filled with a harmless gas to inflate the area, allowing maximum visibility of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Specialised instruments designed for laparoscopic surgery are inserted. These instruments will cut the tubes and then sew them shut.
All instruments are then withdrawn, the gas released, and the incisions closed. Then you’re moved into recovery as you wake up from the anaesthetic.
The entire procedure takes about 20-30 minutes. Laparoscopic contraception is usually done as a day procedure, although an overnight stay in hospital may sometimes be necessary.
How to Prepare for Laparoscopic Contraceptive Surgery
At least 7 days prior to your procedure, it’s important to let your doctor know about any medications you are currently taking. Some medications can increase the risk of complications from surgery, so your doctor will adjust your dosage as necessary.
On the day of your laparoscopic surgery, do not eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before. You may be able to take some medications with a sip of water – your doctor will discuss this with you in detail at your pre-operative appointment.
Patients are advised to arrive at the surgery facility two hours before the procedure.
For more information on what to bring to your surgery, click here
What to Expect After the Procedure
After your surgery, you’ll be sent to a recovery room where a nurse will monitor you as you recover from the anaesthesia. Most women are able to go home 4-5 hours later.
It’s important to remember that you’ll be drowsy from the sedatives, so make sure you arrange someone to pick you up and drive you home. Also, avoid making any big decisions or signing legal documents for the next day or so.
You can expect to have some pain and nausea for the first 4-8 hours after the procedure. Also, you may experience some abdominal cramps for a day or so. Your doctor may prescribe you some pain medication to make you more comfortable during this time.
You may also experience some gassiness or bloating due to the gas that inflated your abdomen. This too will pass.
It’s recommended that you take 2 weeks off work, and perform only light duties for 4 weeks. You’ll need to have a follow up appointment in 6 weeks to assess your recovery.
You may experience some vaginal spotting. However, give Northside Gynaecology a call if you have any concerns.
What Are the Risks Involved?
Laparoscopy is considered to be a very safe procedure. However, as with any medical procedure, it does carry possible complications. These include:
- An allergic reaction to the anaesthetic
- Damage to other organs such as the bowel or bladder is uncommon
- Infection of abdominal wound
- Pregnancy (including ectopic pregnancy) – this is a 1% chance, but still not impossible
All care will be taken to avoid complications during your surgery. If you have any concerns about these possible issues, speak to us during one of your pre-operative appointments.