Can a Woman Get Pregnant After Tubal Ligation

Whether you have already given birth to a child or two and want to find a foolproof method of contraception or you have undergone tubal ligation surgery and have begun to wonder if the procedure can be reversed, you have probably asked yourself the question, "Can a woman get pregnant after tubal ligation?"

What is tubal ligation?

Tubal ligation is a procedure that is performed on a woman that closes off the fallopian tubes so that eggs produced in the ovaries cannot reach the uterus where they can be fertilized by sperm released during sexual intercourse. The purpose of this procedure is to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant, and it is commonly used as a semipermanent form of contraception or birth control. The surgery is also known as sterilization and is frequently referred to as a woman "getting her tubes tied." Tubal ligation surgery can be performed using three different methods: tying the tubes together, sealing the tubes tightly by attaching a small metal implant or ring that won't allow the eggs to pass through them into the uterus or cauterizing the tubes with the use of a mild electric current. Tubal ligation surgeries are most often performed by a gynecologist; however, some family medical doctors and general surgeons will also perform the procedure.

Can a woman get pregnant after tubal ligation?

Although the procedure is intended to be a permanent method of contraception, a slight chance exists that a woman who has undergone tubal ligation can still get pregnant. According to WebMD, the procedure-whether it consists of tubal implants or tying the tubes together-is not considered to be a 100 percent effective means of preventing pregnancy. Five out of 1,000 women who undergo tubal ligation may become pregnant after one year, and as many as 13 out of 1,000 women may become pregnant in the five years following the surgery. This occurs when the tubes naturally begin to grow back together or form a new passage from one side of the split to the other-a process known as recanalization-or when surgeries were not performed correctly. Women whose tubal ligation surgery consisted of receiving an implant in the fallopian tube to block the passage of eggs also run the risk of getting pregnant after the surgery is performed, although this version of the procedure uses relatively new technology, so reliable long-term statistics are not currently available. To determine whether tubal ligation surgery of any kind is the best fit for your body and your lifestyle, consult your gynecologist for more information relevant to your specific case.

Can tubal ligation be reversed?

If you have had tubal ligation surgery in the past but are suffering from second thoughts and would like the option to have more children, rest assured that tubal ligation is typically reversible. Reversing the procedure is most often referred to as "tubal ligation reversal," but is also known as "tubal reanastomosis." The reversal procedure is done at either an outpatient center or hospital, where you will be put under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make a small surgical cut on the outside of your body near the pubic hairline before inserting instruments that will allow him or her to remove any implants, clips or rings inserted during tubal ligation surgery. The ends of the fallopian tubes will then be reconnected to the uterus to allow eggs to pass into it from the ovaries.

The surgery typically takes two to three hours, and recovery time ranges from a few days to several weeks, depending on the type of surgery used to perform the reversal procedure. Assuming you and your partner do not suffer from any infertility issues and the repaired fallopian tubes are healthy, the majority of women who undergo tubal ligation reversal have the ability to become pregnant again once their body heals completely.

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