Back to Search Results


Laparoscopic Sterilization

Author: Tera Howard, MD

Mentor: Todd Jenkins, MD
Editor: Natalie Bowersox, MD

Registered users can also download a PDF or listen to a podcast of this Pearl.
Log in now, or create a free account to access bonus Pearls features.

Female permanent sterilization is the most common form of contraception in the United States and is used by nearly half of all married couples. Laparoscopic sterilization is performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure.  Non-contraceptive benefits of laparoscopic sterilization include decreased pelvic inflammatory disease, decreased ovarian cancer, and ability to survey pelvic anatomy. It is immediately effective, and patients can return quickly to normal activity.

Before undergoing laparoscopic sterilization, the patient should be counseled about its permanent nature, and the risk of regret due to individual social circumstances.   Counseling should include alternative methods for birth spacing including long-acting reversible contraception, vasectomy, and the risk of failure.   Surgical complications occur in 0.9-1.6 per 100 cases and include bowel or bladder injury from electrocautery, unintended conversion to laparotomy, and blood transfusion. Deaths from laparoscopic sterilization are rare and are most frequently related to risks of general anesthesia from hypoventilation or cardiopulmonary arrest. Although the 5-year cumulative failure rate from laparoscopic sterilization is less than 1%, one third of post-procedure pregnancies are ectopic in location. Long term, patients may experience changes in menstrual pattern attributable to advancing age and or discontinuation of hormonal contraception. Tubal ligation does not change menstrual pattern.

Alternatives to laparoscopic sterilization include all forms of contraception, especially male sterilization, and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Vasectomy is safer, more effective, and less expensive than female sterilization. LARC is at least as effective as female permanent sterilization and in some cases more effective.  An adequately counseled patient should never be denied a sterilization procedure solely based on age or parity. Once fully counseled, patients can be offered laparoscopic sterilization separate from a pregnancy (interval sterilization) or concomitantly with a first trimester or a second trimester abortion. For interval sterilization, it is important that the patient is on a reliable form of contraception leading up to the procedure or that the procedure is performed during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Otherwise, the patient may be at risk for a luteal phase pregnancy.

Laparoscopic sterilization can be achieved by tubal occlusion with mechanical devices, electrocoagulation, or tubal excision. Mechanical devices such as the silicone band or silicone lined titanium clips allow for complete occlusion of a segment of the fallopian tube. Normal fallopian tubes are a prerequisite to the use of mechanical methods. For silicone band application, the tubes should be long enough to be drawn into the applicator device. Bipolar electrocautery is preferable to monopolar.  A 3 cm section of the isthmic portion must be completely coagulated for optimal efficacy. Partial or complete salpingectomies are suitable for patients with peritubal or tubal pathology. Opportunistic salpingectomy may offer obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care providers the opportunity to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer in their patients who are already undergoing pelvic surgery for benign disease.  Concerns regarding loss of ovarian function following salpingectomy are unsubstantiated. 


Further reading


Initial Approval: November 2018; Revised: June 2020; Revised January 2022; Revised November 2023.


********** Notice Regarding Use ************

The Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology, Inc. (“SASGOG”) is committed to accuracy and will review and validate all Pearls on an ongoing basis to reflect current practice.

This document is designed to aid practitioners in providing appropriate obstetric and gynecologic care. Recommendations are derived from major society guidelines and high-quality evidence when available, supplemented by the opinion of the author and editorial board when necessary. It should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed.

Variations in practice may be warranted when, in the reasonable judgment of the treating clinician, such course of action is indicated by the condition of the patient, limitations of available resources, or advances in knowledge or technology. SASGOG reviews the articles regularly; however, its publications may not reflect the most recent evidence. While we make every effort to present accurate and reliable information, this publication is provided “as is” without any warranty of accuracy, reliability, or otherwise, either express or implied. SASGOG does not guarantee, warrant, or endorse the products or services of any firm, organization, or person. Neither SASGOG nor its respective officers, directors, members, employees, or agents will be liable for any loss, damage, or claim with respect to any liabilities, including direct, special, indirect, or consequential damages, incurred in connection with this publication or reliance on the information presented.

Copyright 2023 The Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology, Inc. All rights reserved.  No re-print, duplication or posting allowed without prior written consent.


Back to Search Results