Sterilization may be one of the most common forms of birth control in the U.S., yet it's also one of the most misunderstood. Case in point: We still call it "getting your tubes tied." And, in a world with highly-effective reversible birth control options (hello, IUD), it often gets left out of the contraception conversation entirely. So what does it really mean to get your tubes tied?
First off, that's the last time we're going to call it that: "[Getting your tubes tied] is a bit of a misnomer because that never actually happens," says Paula M. Castano, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Instead of "tying" your fallopian tubes, she explains, doctors block or interrupt the movement of the egg through the tubes in a variety of ways, none of which involve any kind of knot.
All of those techniques — referred to as types of "tubal ligation" or "tubal sterilization" — keep your eggs from making their way through your fallopian tubes and being fertilized.
Figuring out which procedure is right for you involves talking to your doctor about a bunch of different factors in your life (e.g. whether or not you've already had kids). But no matter which technique you go with, it's nice to know that sterilization is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
Ahead, we talk to Dr. Castano about what we get wrong about sterilization — and what you need to know before pursuing the procedure.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.