One of the most effective ways of making sure that you don’t get pregnant is having your tubes tied. This procedure, known as a “tubal ligation,” is done surgically and for the purpose of sterilization. The procedure causes the fallopian tubes to be closed. Typically, they are blocked using clips, bands or rings, although in the past they have actually been burned or cut.

By blocking the fallopian tubes, the egg cannot travel from the ovaries to your uterus. It can’t become fertilized, and it can’t implant and grow into a baby. Still, in some extremely rare situations, women who have had their tubes tied have become pregnant.

What can happen is this: In some cases, after having your tubes tied, you can get pregnant when a small section of the fallopian tubes may grow back together.  If this is the case, the egg could still travel through the tubes, where it could be met by sperm and become fertilized.

Slightly more common than actually getting pregnant is an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized and then implants somewhere outside of the uterus. The egg will develop until it starts to cause the woman pain. Typically, it will attach to the fallopian tubes, cervix or in the abdominal cavity. The fertilized egg can’t receive nutrition in these cases, however, and will not develop.

An ectopic pregnancy is treated surgically.  The health care provider removes the fertilized egg from the woman’s body.  This can be done laparoscopically, which is much less painful and evasive than traditional surgeries.  If an ectopic pregnancy is detected extremely early, it can be treated with an injection which will dissolve the fertilized egg.

You need to keep some things in mind when you’re considering having your tubes tied. Having your tubes tied will reduce your chances of becoming pregnant. However, it will not protect you against AIDS or other STDs. Also, having your tubes tied is generally considered a permanent sterilization method. While it may in some cases be possible to reverse the procedure, it’s not always successful.