Are sexual problems more common in women who have had a tubal ligation? A population-based study of Australian women


Prof. A Smith, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University, 215 Franklin Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia. Email


Please cite this paper as: Smith A, Lyons A, Ferris J, Richters J, Pitts M, Shelley J. Are sexual problems more common in women who have had a tubal ligation? A population-based study of Australian women. BJOG 2010;117:463–468.

Objective  To investigate whether women who have had a tubal ligation are more likely to experience sexual problems than other women.

Design  Population-based telephone survey.

Setting  Australia-wide, including cities, regional towns, and rural areas.

Population  A total of 3448 Australian women aged between 16 and 64 years.

Methods  Women were surveyed using random-digit dialling throughout 2004 and 2005.

Main outcome measures  Prevalence of sexual problems and ratings of sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and sexual pleasure.

Results  From a weighted sample of 2721 women, 447 (16.4%) reported having had a tubal ligation, with 85.0% currently aged between 40 and 64 years. Having a tubal ligation was not associated with any specific sexual problem, such as physical pain during sex or an inability to reach orgasm. In fact, after controlling for age and other sociodemographic differences, sterilised women were significantly less likely than non-sterilised women to lack an interest in having sex (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.54–0.89), to take ‘too long’ to reach orgasm (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.50–0.96), to experience vaginal dryness during sex (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.50–0.96), and to find sex unpleasurable (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.46–0.90). Sterilised women were also more likely to experience extremely high levels of sexual satisfaction (OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.27–2.18), relationship satisfaction (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.01–1.67), and sexual pleasure (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.20–2.12).

Conclusions  Our findings suggest no adverse effects, and possibly some benefits, for the sexual lives of women undergoing tubal ligation. These findings should be included with other educational material for couples considering sterilisation as a contraception option.