Can you reverse a tubal ligation?
A tubal ligation reversal repairs the fallopian tubes after a tubal ligation (“having your tubes tied”). Reversing a tubal ligation can make it possible to become pregnant again. However, this procedure’s chance of success depends on several factors.
What Is a Tubal Ligation?
Also known as “having your tubes tied,” a tubal ligation is a form of permanent birth control for people with ovaries. A surgeon blocks the fallopian tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus, by clipping, banding, blocking, or cutting and sealing them. The procedure prevents pregnancy by blocking sperm from reaching an egg, avoiding fertilization.
What Is a Tubal Ligation Reversal?
Patients thinking about a tubal ligation should consider it a permanent procedure. This is because not all tubal ligations can be reversed, and there is no guarantee of pregnancy even for those that can. However, it is possible in some cases to reattach the fallopian tubes after a tubal ligation, making it possible again to become pregnant through intercourse.
In a tubal ligation reversal, a surgeon inspects the fallopian tubes, removes any damaged tissue or devices (such as clips or bands) restricting the tubes, and carefully reattaches the ends of the tubes. Around 1% of patients who receive a tubal ligation eventually reverse the procedure.
How Often Does It Work?
Success rates for people who reverse their tubal ligation range from 40-80%. Most people who become pregnant do so within 1-2 years of the procedure.
The wide range of success rates comes from the many factors that can affect the success of a tubal ligation reversal. These factors include:
- Age – the chances of getting pregnant decrease with age. Tubal ligation reversals have the highest success rates in people under 35, and the lowest for people over 40.
- Overall health – some health conditions, like autoimmune diseases, can make it harder to get pregnant
- Reproductive health – general fertility issues, such as low egg quality or male factor infertility, make it harder to become pregnant
- Type of tubal ligation – certain tubal ligation procedures are harder or impossible to reverse
- Condition of the fallopian tubes – the surgeon needs a certain length of undamaged fallopian tube for the reattachment.
What Are the Risks?
Getting a tubal ligation reversal increases the chance of an ectopic pregnancy. In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube, instead of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy cannot be carried to term, and can be life-threatening if not discovered and treated early. In general, around 1% of all pregnancies are ectopic. However, after a tubal ligation reversal, the risk increases to 4-8%.
Reversing a tubal ligation also carries the risks of any surgery, namely infection, bleeding, or complications from anesthesia. These risks are typically low.
What Are Alternatives to Get Pregnant After a Tubal Ligation?
Not everyone is a good candidate for a tubal ligation reversal. For these patients, in vitro fertilization (IVF) can offer an alternative path to biological parenthood. In IVF, a doctor retrieves eggs from a patient’s ovaries and fertilizes them in a lab to develop embryos. They then transfer the embryo to a patient’s uterus, where it hopefully implants to become a pregnancy. IVF avoids the fallopian tubes entirely, making it an option for patients with a tubal ligation who cannot or do not wish to reverse the procedure.
Interested in Pregnancy After a Tubal Ligation?
Both getting and reversing a tubal ligation are major decisions. If you would like to become pregnant after a tubal ligation, we can help discuss your options. Some may find success with a tubal ligation reversal. For others, IVF may be a more effective treatment plan. For more information, reach out to us today.