Many people undergo tubal ligation (colloquially referred to as having your ‘tubes tied’) as permanent birth control when they feel their family is complete. However, circumstances can change — and you may desire to welcome another child into your family. Have you wondered, “can I have a baby after having my tubes tied? And if so, how?”
In short, pregnancy is possible, even after tubal ligation. In this article, we’ll explore the ways you may be able to get pregnant after having your tubes tied.
First, let’s review what takes place during tubal ligation.
The surgical procedure is performed on your fallopian tubes to prevent an egg from being fertilized and traveling to the uterus. Under normal circumstances, sperm travels up into the fallopian tubes, while an egg comes down from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes. Then, the sperm can meet the egg and fertilize it. The fertilized egg then moves down through the fallopian tubes into the uterus, where it can implant.
A tubal ligation blocks this conception process by tying off, cutting, or removing part of the fallopian tubes, preventing pregnancy. However, if you hope to have a baby after having your tubes tied, you have a couple of options — a tubal reversal or in vitro fertilization.
One way to pursue pregnancy after tubal ligation is a tubal reversal. During this surgical procedure, your doctor will reverse the ligation. The surgeon will reconnect and reopen the fallopian tubes so that it’s possible for eggs and sperm to traverse them again. This is known as reanastamosis.
- After a tubal reversal, you’ll likely need to be off work for a couple of weeks to rest and recover.
- So how soon can you conceive after a tubal reversal? Your doctor will provide guidance and generally recommend that you wait a few months before trying to conceive. Many couples successfully fall pregnant within one or two years after the procedure.
- An advantage of tubal reversal is that it’s possible to get pregnant without taking additional medications or treatments. Pregnancy also occurs through sexual intercourse rather than a clinical procedure.
The success of a tubal reversal depends on several factors, including the length of the repaired fallopian tubes and the amount of tubal scarring from the procedure. Shorter fallopian tubes and scarring in and around the tubes decrease the chance of success and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. This common complication can happen after tubal reanastamosis.
Reversing a tubal ligation would require the patient to seek another type of contraceptive when needed.
Another way to get pregnant after tubal ligation is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This fertility treatment completely bypasses the fallopian tubes, requiring no surgical procedure to restore open fallopian tubes.
The IVF process involves taking a short course of medication to mature eggs in your body. These eggs are collected from your ovaries and fertilized in a lab using your partner’s or a donor’s sperm. The fertilized eggs (embryos) are then grown in the lab and can be transferred with a high success rate to achieve pregnancy.
IVF typically has a success rate of around 33-60% under age 40, but success rates can vary based on the patient’s age, ovarian reserve, and where they choose to undergo the IVF process. These factors are even more critical in patients over 40 years old.
So how do you know which treatment option is right for your family? There are a few factors to consider.
- Age: Since fertility in females declines after age 35, a tubal reversal may not be the best option if you’re over 35.
- Genetic Testing: IVF enables you to have genetic testing performed on the embryos, which may increase your success in having a healthy baby.
- Medication and Timeline: IVF can be a faster and safer route to pregnancy. In contrast, a tubal ligation will require recovery and a longer path to pregnancy but avoids using medications and hormones.
- Type of Tubal Ligation: The type and location of tubal ligation may dictate if a reanastomosis should be attempted, but anatomical issues rarely impair the success rate of IVF.
- Sperm Quality: Male factor issues related to lower sperm numbers or function would greatly lower the chance of pregnancy after tubal reanastomosis but can be treated successfully with IVF.
Insurance plans rarely cover tubal reanastomosis or IVF after tubal ligation so the out-of-pocket cost can be high for both. Tubal reversal surgery may require an overnight stay at a surgery center or hospital. These costs can be similar to or much greater than IVF, which is often $13-20,000.
Ideally, choosing how to grow your family after voluntary sterilization is based on each case in terms of the medical, surgical, and financial variables involved. These factors should be discussed in consultation with your specialist, who can guide you on which route would be best for you.
Schedule a consultation to learn more about getting pregnant after tubal ligation.