Female sterilisation is an operation to permanently prevent pregnancy. The fallopian tubes are blocked or sealed to prevent the eggs reaching the sperm and becoming fertilised. Depending on the method used, you would either have a general anaesthetic, where you’re asleep during surgery, or local anaesthetic, where you’d be awake but not feel any pain.

At a glance: facts about female sterilisation

  • Female sterilisation is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • You do not have to think about protecting yourself against pregnancy every time you have sex, so it does not interrupt your sex life.
  • It does not affect your hormone levels and you’ll still have periods.
  • You’ll need to use contraception up until you have the operation, and until your next period or for 3 months after the operation (depending on the type of sterilisation).
  • As with any surgery, there’s a small risk of complications, such as internal bleeding, infection or damage to other organs.
  • There’s a small risk that the operation will not work. Blocked tubes can rejoin immediately or years later.
  • If the operation fails, this may increase the risk of a fertilised egg implanting outside the womb (ectopic pregnancy).
  • Sterilisation is very difficult to reverse, so you need to be sure it’s right for you.
  • Sterilisation does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you may need to use condoms as well.