Tubal ligation in Australia

In Australia, the procedure is written as sterilisation with an S instead of a Z. SterilizationAunty adapted this page to follow Australian spelling rules to not distract Australian readers.

Sterilisation laws in Australia

Tubal ligation surgery is legal in Australia for any adult woman who is well informed, fully understands the consequences, and consents freely to the procedure. There is no official age limit, a minimum number of children, or spousal consent requirement. 1

In practice, many women face refusal from their doctors if they are under 30 and childfree.

Tubal Ligation costs in Australia

Generally, you have the choice between going to a public or a private hospital for your sterilisation. Though you will often face long waiting times, there are usually no charges in a public hospital, since it’s fully covered by Medicare. In a private hospital, Medicare will only cover a small part of the costs, but appointments are much faster available. You are looking at paying around $3000 for tubal ligation in a private hospital if you don’t have additional private health insurance. 2

If you have private health insurance, they often cover part of the costs in a private hospital after a waiting period, but there is often a gap or out out-of-pocket to pay. You will often end up paying between $0 and $500 in a private hospital. 2

Please note, that the prices mentioned here are purely an indication to give you are a rough idea. They might vary greatly depending on your insurance and the hospital you choose. Make sure to talk openly about the total costs before making a commitment. Depending on the hospital or clinic, you might have to pay them first and then seek reimbursement from Medicare or they might bulk bill Medicare directly.

Sterilisation process in Australia

To get a tubal ligation, you’ll usually need a referral from your GP to a specialised surgeon. First, make a dedicated appointment with your GP to discuss your wish for permanent contraception. Make sure you come well prepared for this appointment. You can find more information on how to prepare for the appointment in our article about how to talk to your doctor.

If you managed to convince your GP that tubal ligation is the right choice for you and you received the referral, you can make an appointment with the surgeon. If it’s a public hospital, you usually have to wait several months before meeting the surgeon. At private hospitals, you can often arrange an appointment within a few weeks. ((Source: https://www.hbf.com.au/-/media/files/reports/hbf-wait-times-report-2018.pdf))

Then you will have to convince your surgeon again that you know what you are signing up for. This conversation often goes a bit easier than the conversation with your GP. That’s because another doctor has already signed off on your decision and your GP will usually make sure to refer you to a surgeon that respects patient’s bodily autonomy. But you should still make sure that you are well prepared.

Finally, after you took this second hurdle, you can make an appointment for the actual tubal ligation surgery. How long you’ll have to wait for the procedure, will again depend if you chose to go public or private. The waiting times in public hospital varies a lot and will often be between one and several months. In a private hospital, the waiting time only depends on the availability of the operation theatre and the availability of the surgeon and will often be between 2-3 weeks. ((Source: https://www.hbf.com.au/-/media/files/reports/hbf-wait-times-report-2018.pdf))

Tubal ligation for chilfree Australians

If you are young and childfree, there is a good chance that your personal path to sterilisation will not be as straight forward as described here. You’ll likely experience heavy pushback or even complete refusal from your GP. That doesn’t mean the end of the road. Try a different GP, who is more open to the idea of tubal ligations for young women. To skip this step completely, it’s also worth asking suitable private hospitals, if they offer sterilisations without referrals.

  1. Source: https://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=dd0547fd-12e1-4bcf-8f8e-99e4c9b0d1e1&subId=16161 
  2. Sources: https://www.shinesa.org.au/health-information/contraception/permanent-contraceptive-methods-sterilisation/, https://www.medibank.com.au/health-support/hospital-assist/costs/tubal-ligation/