When looking into permanent contraception methods for people with a uterus, you might come across a couple of terms like “tubal ligation” and “tubal occlusion”. You might even see them used interchangeably. But it’s important to know that they are two very different procedures. And only one of them is still available in Australia.
What’s Tubal Ligation?
Tubal Ligation is what we colloquially refer to as ‘having your tubes tied’. It’s the standard for female sterilisation procedures. It’s minor surgery, and definitely something you should discuss with your doctor before committing to.
The procedure involves a surgical incision in the abdominal wall to find the fallopian tubes. An additional incision is then made above the pubic line which is used to close the tubes.
There are a number of different methods of closing the tubes off and they differ from surgeon to surgeon. Some surgeons will keep the tubes intact and close them off with a ring, band, or clip. Others will cut, tie off, clamp or cauterize the tubes. Discuss with your surgeon which method they prefer and the benefits of each. Don’t be afraid to do your own research either.
Tubal ligation is a complex procedure when compared to options such as LARC or vasectomy. Because it involves a general anaesthetic, and several surgical incisions, it also includes all the risks associated with surgery.
What’s Tubal Occlusion?
Tubal Occlusion was a procedure similar to tubal ligation. It also worked by creating a barrier in the fallopian tube, preventing eggs from reaching the uterus.
Rather than performing surgery to close off the tubes, however, a small metal coil was inserted into the tubes (via a catheter through the uterus). The body would respond to the coils by scarring over them. This created a natural barrier in the fallopian tube.
The only product in Australia that was available for tubal occlusion was called Essure. It’s no longer available, as the manufacturer removed it from sale after the Therapeutic Goods Administration issued a hazard alert for it.
So if you’re considering sterilisation, you don’t need to worry about deciding between tubal ligation and tubal occlusion. In Australia, you will only be able to access tubal ligation.