This article on Tubal Ligation or Female Sterilisation explains how it works, who it is suitable for and the advantages and disadvantages of Tubal Ligation.

What is ‘tubal ligation’ or female sterilisation?

Sterilisation is permanent contraception. It is commonly referred to as ‘having your tubes tied’.

Every month an egg is released from one of the woman’s ovaries and travels along the fallopian tubes to the womb, or uterus. Here it will implant to form a new pregnancy, if it has been fertilised by the male sperm.

Female sterilisation involves an operation called tubal ligation, where the fallopian tubes are closed by one of the following methods –

  • electro coagulation – the tubes are cauterised
  • clips
  • rings
  • cut and tied.

There are two methods of doing the procedure

  • Using a laparoscope (a tiny camera), which is inserted near the navel, via a small cut to the skin and muscle. A small incision is also made near the pubic hair line to attach the clips onto the fallopian tubes.
  • Alternatively a larger abdominal incision will need to be made near the pubic hair line, if the laparoscopy is unsuitable, due to medical reasons.

Where and when can you get sterilised?

This method of contraception is suitable for women who do not want children, or who do not want any more children, or who are unable to have more children for financial or personal reasons.

It is advisable to consider whether you are ever likely to want any more children, for example if you had a new partner, or one of your existing children died.

It is also advisable to discuss this with your partner, although it is not legally necessary for them to give consent for you to have a permanent sterilisation.

If a woman decides that she wants to have this operation, in order to have permanent contraception, she will need to go to hospital for the procedure.

Occasionally this can be done at the same time as an elective Caesarean section, if discussed before hand with the obstetrician.

How does sterilisation work?

As a result of the fallopian tubes being cut or closed the sperm can no longer reach the egg – and the egg can no longer reach the womb. Pregnancy can therefore no longer take place.

How much does sterilisation cost?

Check with your own District Health Board for the current length of time on the public waiting list.

Tubal ligation costs about $3,500 – $5,000 when performed by a private surgeon. Most health insurance plans potentially cover treatment costs, but check the details in your own policy for inclusions, exclusions, and coverage maximums.

What is the success rate of sterilisation?

Sterilisation is very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. The failure rate is 1 in 200 – if 200 women use sterilisation for one year, one will fall pregnant.

Sterilisation does NOT prevent sexually transmitted infections or STIs. It is necessary to use a condom also to prevent infection.

What are the risks of sterilisation?

This is a permanent method of contraception; although some women have a successful reversal of a tubal ligation, this is not guaranteed.

Tubal ligation is done under general anaesthetic (you are ‘put to sleep’) or spinal anaesthetic (which blocks pain and sensation to your lower body) which both carry a small risk. Your anaesthetist will talk you through any particular risks for you (for example, smoking, medical conditions, previous anaesthetics) prior to the operation.

All operations carry a risk of infection. This can be minimised by –

  • a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables
  • avoiding smoking
  • resting to allow the wound to heal well
  • keeping the wound clean

All operations carry a risk of internal bleeding and risk of damage to other organs. These risks are minimal.

If a woman falls pregnant after a tubal ligation, she is at an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy (where the fertilised egg implants outside of the womb).

What are the pros of female sterilisation?

  • Female sterilisation is immediately effective.
  • Sometimes women can go home the same day – particularly if the laparoscope has been used, as the cut will be smaller.
  • Your normal menstrual cycle is unaffected by the operation and normal periods continue.

What are the cons of female sterilisation?

  • Some women have to stay in hospital for 1-2 days, may have implications for childcare, work and life in general!
  • Women need to avoid any lifting or straining for at least a week.
  • This operation is not always reversible – and there is a cost to this whether a reversal is successful or not. It is advisable to think carefully before undertaking permanent contraception.

Check out the following articles to compare this option with the Combined Pill or Progesterone Only / Mini Pill, go here for additional information on Condoms. Or check out our full contraception section for more expert advice.

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Paula Skelton is a qualified NZ nurse and midwife, a midwifery & childbirth educator and the mum of three lovely girls.

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Taren Maher

Hi just wondering what the price is to get the procedure done through public hospital?


Hi Taren, all elective surgery in New Zealand is free (although there may still be some costs like surcharges, specialist fees, etc.). You will need to see your GP, for a referral to a specialist for assessment. Then you’ll be given a priority score, to see if you’re eligible for surgery. Then you’ll go on a waitlist, which can be quite long for Tubal Ligation. Expect at least a 6 month waitlist, even up to a year or more, depending on your location and priority score. — Jarrod

Taren Maher

Awesome thank you

Chelsea Tornade-Hoe

Why does female sterilization cost so much money and not free under the health system like other gynecological services are?


What is the cost for tube untied in new Zealand and can it come under he’s the insurance?


Im a mother of 3 an in a loving new relationship an my partner wants a baby i had my tubes tied an would really like to untie them so does any1 know were an how much this cost we would be very greatful for any help

Sally @ Kiwi Families

Hello Michelle, our Facebook friends had some experiences to share that might help you: https://www.facebook.com/kiwifamilies/posts/702941766431121. All the best.


Hi im 28 have 2 kids and everytime i ask bout getting this done im always told that im to young and got to wait till im 35,i havent had enough children, i got no medical reason to have it done ive had the iud that fell out had the rods and my periods are not the same and ive been having some bad side affects im thinking of getting it taken out what is need for me to get my tubes done asap and the cost thank you

Kate Melzer

It’s so sexist that a 28 year old man doesnt get hassled, questioned or interrogated about having his tubes nicked. If a woman has made a decision to undertake tubal ligation why is she questioned more than a male, a whole lot more. Women are actually capable of making important decisions without wavering, doctors should respect this. So disrespectful.


Hi where can I have my it remove. I had mine tied year ago but I change my mind. .what sort of money involved to have it removed? Thanks

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Tearoha, This varies for everyone – the best thing to do is go and see your GP or family planning clinic. They should be able to advise. I believe It can be very expensive -upwards of $10 000. Good luck!


Can anyone tell me about the essure procedure and if they recommend it?


A tubal ligation reversal isn’t that good at all .. its been 2 and a half years since I had mine done it creates a whole lot of problems tbh im so over it wish I never had it done


Hi, I am 25 and have no children. The doctor tells me there is a higher risk to do a tubal on a woman like me, without children. Can you tell me what the problem is?

Teresa Anne Thorpe

The problem is the doctor is scared you’re going to regret it and sue him or something because of your age.


Does anyone know if the procedure free if you go through the public hospital?

Dorothy Boud

waiting list is about two years through the public system


Hay is there an age you have to be? Im 16 and really dont want children due to personal reasons.

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Freya,

I’m not aware of a particular age that you need to be but you are unlikely to be given a tubal ligation for some years. However, there are a number of very good contraceptive methods that you can use in the meantime – such as an IUD -http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/articles/intra-uterine-device-iud/

Kind regards,



Hi. I am 28 and have 2 children already, 9 and 8. I have not had a period for the last 10 almost, will this come back if i was to have my tubes tied. Do you have to be a certain age to have this done? What does one have to go though to get this done. Thanks.


Hi, I’m 23 and pregnant with my second child and I do not want anymore kids. Do you have to be a certain age to be able to have your tubes tied? Thanks

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Kat,

The best thing to do is chat to your GP about this. They will be able to advise you based on your situation.

Good luck!


hi there im haviing this procedure done and i have a 3yr old who is home with me full time. My husband is only taing 2days off after it to help me at home is this long enuff??/

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Reach,

Generally it’s recommended that you rest for 1-3 days and it’s common for woman to be sore for a week or so afterwards. It is recommended that you avoid lifting for at least a week after the procedure. Are you able to manage like this?

Good luck!



I, I was just wondering what is the cost of reversing the procedure?


did u find out were to get a reversing done and the cost



Rochelle Gribble

Hi there, in most cases, yes you will.




Your costs don’t seem all that accurate.  Someone I know got it done recently, quote was $3500 and actual bill was $5000 – this is quite different to the $1500-$2000 you mention.

Rochelle Gribble

Thanks for that update! I’ve done some research and you’re right… I’ve updated this article. 
Kind regards, Rochelle


What do you mean by “Some women have to stay in hospital for 1-2 days, which has implications for childcare.”? A bit sexist. What about implications for work, running a business, being a successful working woman in general. Just because we give birth to children doesn’t mean we are their sole carers. 

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Natasha, 

You’re right- as a working mama, I certainly know this! I’ve amended this article. 




Where can I go in NZ to have this procedure done and do you know the cost and success rate


Services around New Zealand vary greatly between urban centres and rural areas. They also vary between the main centres too. For this reason I would advise that you visit your GP in the first instance, who will be aware of services available locally and will be able to let you know what your choices are. I would guess that you would need to go privately, so you could ring your local private hospital and ask them if they have a rough guide as to the cost of the operation. Success rates will depend upon the type of operation you had… Read more »


Hey there, is there anyone in new zealand that reverses based on the
affects that i’ve had since having i done…..anxiety, heavy and very
sore bleeding, random bleeding and hot/cold flushes? I was 20 when i had
this procedure done and have had these difficulties since and told my
docters over the years, all i did is what they said for me to
do…..exercise, eat healthly, making mysef comfrtably in different ways
when i get my monthly. But to no avail………i just want to be back
to normal

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