What Is a Tubal Ligation & Reversal?
Tubal ligation is a surgery that is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. It is also known as “getting your tubes tied”. The surgery uses one of several methods to block the fallopian tubes to inhibit fertilization of an egg and prevent it from traveling down to the womb.
A tubal ligation reversal is a surgical procedure done to reconnect or open the fallopian tubes back up so the sperm can reach the egg and conception can successfully take place. The egg’s path is no longer blocked so it can implant into the uterus resulting in pregnancy.
How Is a Tubal Ligation Reversal Done?
The method that is used to reverse a tubal ligation depends largely on the technique that was used to perform the original ligation and the condition and health of the fallopian tubes. To understand how the surgeon can perform a reversal, let’s look at the different ways ligations are performed.
Tubal Ligation Techniques That Often Can Be Reversed
- Pomeroy tubal ligation is performed by shaping the fallopian tubes into a loop and suturing them together to pinch them closed. Often, the loop at the top is cut and cauterized (burned)
- Tubal ring or falope ring – tiny elastic bands are used to secure the fallopian tube after it is shaped into a loop. The rings do not usually do any damage to the fallopian tubes and the reversal rate is very high.
- Tubal clips (spring clip or Hulka clip) – these locking clips are around 7mm wide and clip onto the fallopian tube close to the uterus blocking off the path of the egg but doing very little damage to the fallopian tube.
- Bipolar coagulation (cauterization done laparoscopically) – this method damages the ends of the fallopian tube by burning it with electrical current. Cauterizing the small sections of the tube blocks off those sections to prevent pregnancy. Reversal can sometimes be done depending on how many sections of the tube were cauterized and damaged.
The success of a reversal will primarily depend on the skill of the microsurgeon and how much viable fallopian tube they have to work with. If the original ligation was done with clips or rings, the process for reversing is not as challenging as if they were burned or cut. Other factors such as the patient’s age, weight, presence of scar tissue, etc will also influence how successful a reversal will be.
How Long Does It Take for Tubes to Heal after Tubal Reversal?
The recovery after a tubal ligation reversal normally only takes about two weeks. The surgeon will provide you with instructions on how to best care for yourself while you are on the mend.
Getting Pregnant after a Successful Tubal Ligation Reversal
Many women have questions about getting pregnant and having a baby after a tubal ligation reversal. Following are several frequently asked questions about what you can expect after having a tubal ligation reversal.
1. What Is the Tubal Ligation Reversal Success Rate?
A tubal ligation reversal may be successful in repairing the fallopian tubes making it possible for an egg to be fertilized however, this is not the same as the success rate of becoming pregnant after the procedure. The success rate for tubal ligation reversal procedures ranges from between 45-85%.
2. What Is the Easiest Tubal Ligation to Reverse?
Usually, ligations done with clips or rings are the easiest to reverse and offer the highest success rate. The fallopian tubes usually remain intact with the least amount of damage when rings or clips are used during the original procedure.
Tubal ligations that were done through cauterization (burning) also can offer a favorable reversal rate if there is enough viable fallopian tube left for reconnection to be achieved.
3. Is It Easy to Get Pregnant after a Tubal Ligation Reversal?
If both partners are healthy and do not have other fertility-related issues, becoming pregnant after a tubal ligation reversal should not be difficult. Statistics show that younger women have a higher rate of success in becoming pregnant with women under the age of 35 having a 70-85% rate of pregnancy success and women over 40 years of age having a 30-40% success rate.
4. Can You Get Pregnant after Having Your Tubes Tied?
It is possible to become pregnant after having a tubal ligation but in most cases, it will be an ectopic pregnancy and will not be viable. In very rare cases, tubes have grown back together and resulted in a viable pregnancy. As advancements in medicine have been made, procedures such as tubal ligations have become more precise and effective all but eliminating a rate of failure.
5. How Soon after Tubal Reversal Can I Conceive?
Usually, doctors recommend waiting at least a couple of months to allow your body to heal from the tubal ligation reversal surgery. Your doctor will advise you when they feel it would be best for you to begin trying to get pregnant. Statistically, women usually become pregnant in the first year following their reversal, but it has been known to happen as soon as a month after surgery.
6. How Common Is Ectopic Pregnancy after Tubal Reversal?
The risk of an ectopic pregnancy or tubal pregnancy increases if any condition or procedure disrupts the normal function of a woman’s fallopian tube. In general, the risk of ectopic pregnancy is about 2.5% but after undergoing a tubal ligation or a tubal ligation reversal there is an increased risk (10%) of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
7. What Does Ectopic Pregnancy Mean?
If an egg is fertilized and then attaches somewhere besides the uterus, it is considered an ectopic pregnancy. In many cases, the fertilized egg will attach inside the fallopian tube (tubal pregnancy) where there is no room to grow and no means of survival. If not detected and addressed early enough, it can cause the fallopian tube to rupture causing serious life-threatening internal bleeding.
8. How Would I Know If My Pregnancy after Tubal Ligation Reversal Is Ectopic?
If you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy it is critical you receive immediate medical attention. Some of the symptoms you may experience are:
- Pelvic pain;
- Pain in the abdominal region, often low down on one side;
- Vaginal bleeding, usually different than your regular period; bleeding is intermittent, watery with a dark brown color;
- Fainting spells;
- Extreme lightheadedness.
9. What If Tubal Ligation Reversal Does Not Work?
If tubal ligation reversal surgery did not work or you are not a candidate for reversal surgery, you may be able to become pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination.
- In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure where eggs are harvested from the female partner and sperm is extracted from the male partner. Scientists choose healthy eggs and sperm and join them together to “fertilize” the egg. The fertilized eggs are then implanted into the female’s womb in hopes one of the eggs will correctly implant and result in a viable pregnancy. IFV involves a multi-step process for the female partner including a round of birth control pills, hormone shots, etc.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure where sperm is gathered from the male partner and the stronger viable ones are separated from the rest. This sperm is then introduced into the female partner’s uterus through the use of a small painless catheter. This process is normally used if the male partner has issues with sperm count, sperm motility, or the size or shape of the sperm. In preparation for the insemination of sperm into the uterus, the female is often given medications to assist in ovulation for a higher success rate. This method is less expensive than IVF and may be a viable option for those with sperm-related infertility issues.
If you have had a tubal ligation and desire to get pregnant, contact IBI Healthcare Institute to set up a consultation. Your health and concerns are our top priority. During your consultation, we will discuss the tubal ligation reversal procedure and determine if this procedure is right for you.