Anonymous on September 12, 2011

Is it possible to get pregnant after having my tubes tied?

I’ve had my tubes tied for eight years, but now I’m with a new partner and we’ve both been talking about how great it would be to have a baby. Would it be possible to reverse my procedure so I could have a baby?

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on September 12, 2011

Thanks for your question. It’s not uncommon for a woman to consider reversing a tubal ligation, especially with a new relationship. The reversal is doable, but it’s relatively rare. Your doctor is the best person to talk to about this issue to answer your questions in the context of your specific circumstances. However, I can offer a few points for your consideration...

When a woman gets her “tubes tied” she’s having a procedure called a tubal ligation in which her fallopian tubes (the tubes in the woman’s reproductive system that carry an egg from the ovary to the uterus) are cut or blocked. This stops eggs from being able to travel through the fallopian tubes into the uterus and causes sterilization.

If a woman decides that she would like to have another child after a tubal ligation, she can talk to her doctor about a tubal ligation reversal. During this procedure, the doctor typically cuts out the blocked portion of the fallopian tubes and sews the ends back together. A successful procedure results in the egg once again being able to travel down the fallopian tube and sperm being able to travel up the fallopian tube to meet and fertilize the egg. In other words, a successful tubal ligation reversal can make it possible to get pregnant once again.

How often are tubal ligation reversals successful? In one study conducted in the Netherlands and published in the journal Human Reproduction in 2011, 74% of women were able to become pregnant within 40 months of the procedure.

Are there other options for pregnancy after a tubal ligation? Another option for pursuing pregnancy after a tubal ligation is in vitro fertilization (IVF). Because the ovaries and uterus aren’t affected by a tubal ligation, eggs can be removed from a woman’s ovaries right before ovulation.

These eggs are then combined with the partner’s healthy sperm in a lab, and monitored for fertilization. The fertilized egg (an embryo) is then placed into the woman’s uterus. If the procedure is successful, the embryo will attach to the uterine wall and begin to grow.

Drawbacks to this procedure include expense, and the requirement that the woman take specific hormones to prompt multiple egg development. And keep in mind that pregnancy success rates after a tubal ligation reversal or IVF decrease with age...particularly after the age of 35.

Again, it’s best to talk with your doctor about how this option may or may not work for you.

I hope this information is useful to you, and I wish you and your new partner good luck and good health.

Related info:

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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