Getting Pregnant After a Tubal Ligation

What is tubal ligation?

A tubal ligation is a procedure that cuts and interrupts the fallopian tubes. It is a type of permanent birth control. During a tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied, or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy and prevent an egg from traveling from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes, and blocks sperm from traveling up the fallopian tubes to the egg. It is usually done if a woman never wants to have any more children.

Can I get pregnant after a tubal ligation?

A tubal ligation is meant to be permanent with the intent that the woman does not want to have more babies in the future. One complication of a tubal ligation is a life-threatening complication, an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. This rarely happens, in about 1 in 300 tubal ligations. 

What if I want to have a baby after a tubal ligation?

Getting pregnant after a tubal ligation is possible but requires additional surgery or procedures. If you decide to try getting pregnant after a tubal ligation, you do have some options and courses of action you can take, but they involve major surgery or procedures and can be costly.

What are some options to help me conceive after tubal ligation?

  1. Tubal ligation reversal surgery (Tubal reanastomosis)
  2. In-vitro fertilization (IVF)
  3. Surrogate

All of these options cost money. Tubal reversal surgery is on average about $10,000 with a range of between $5-20,000. IVF can cost on average $10,000 each month and more if there is an egg and/or sperm donor. A surrogate can cost $100,000 or more.

What is tubal ligation reversal surgery?

The tubal ligation reversal requires that you go back into surgery to have your fallopian tubes rejoined. Before surgery, your doctor will recommend doing some tests and see how much of the tube is left. The success rate also depends on how the tubal ligation surgery was originally done. Some techniques of tubal ligation make it less likely to have successful tubal reversal surgery done.

The tubal reversal surgery may not be possible if the remaining tubes are not long enough to rejoin, and could still prevent pregnancy if there has been any damage to the tubes.

What is in-vitro fertilization? 

In-vitro fertilization requires that you take hormones to increase the likelihood of eggs releasing from the ovaries, and then the eggs will be removed from her body with a needle and implanted directly into the uterus through the vaginal walls. Having a baby through surrogacy requires finding another woman to carry the pregnancy.

What are my chances of getting pregnant after tubal ligation reversal surgery or IVF?

Your chances of getting pregnant depend primarily on your age. The older you are, the less likely your chances of getting pregnant.

With a tubal ligation reversal, you have an about 60% chance of it working well enough to naturally conceive, but it depends on many variables.

Using in-vitro fertilization has a typical success rate between 10-25% or more per month, and the success will vary depending on the clinic that performs the procedure and your age, and whether it's your own eggs or donor eggs. This success rate applies to each embryo transfer procedure.

The chances of getting pregnant are even less if there has been any damage to the fallopian tubes either as a result of the original tubal ligation, or the reversal of the tubal ligation.

What are the risks?

As with any procedure, there are risks. With a tubal ligation reversal procedure, there is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. This is because scarring and narrowing of the tubes, once they have been rejoined, may make the egg too large to pass all the way through the tube before becoming fertilized. The in-vitro fertilization process will carry an increased risk of ovarian cancer, because of the increased hormones that a woman must take to stimulate the release of many eggs in one cycle.

No matter the reason you had your tubal ligation, and no matter the reason for deciding to try to have another child, all you can do is hope. Even though your chances are small, and several risks are involved in trying to become pregnant after having a tubal ligation, you are not alone in the world. Many women who undergo the procedure later decide to have another child of their own. If you discover that you cannot have another child after your tubal ligation, you could always try to adopt one of the many children who need a good home. You do not have to give birth to a child to be a mother. All that matters is that you love, care for, and nurture the child, and you can do that no matter what.

Getting pregnant after a tubal ligation involves certain risks, including a significantly increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy. If you had a tubal ligation and you feel you are pregnant, call your doctor right away to make sure the pregnancy is not in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy).