Tubal Ligation Reversal
Tubal ligation is a very common procedure, especially in North America and Europe. Many women choose to undergo tubal ligation in order to take control of their reproductive health and manage the size of their family. Commonly referred to as "getting your tubes tied," tubal ligation is meant to be a permanent procedure. However, if you decide that you want to add to your family, reversal of tubal ligation can be done in order to facilitate pregnancy. In fact, up to 25% of women who have undergone the tubal ligation choose to have it reversed it at some point in their lives. If you have had a tubal ligation but are interested in adding to your family once again, tubal ligation reversal may be an option for you.
What Happens During Tubal Reversal Surgery?
As you probably remember, getting your tubes tied is a major surgery; it is performed in a hospital setting and requires significant recovery time. Similarly, tubal ligation reversal is also a major undertaking, so you should be prepared for another trip to the hospital.
Tubal reversal surgery is usually performed in hospital under general anesthetic. Typically, the procedure lasts between two and three hours, but it really depends on your surgeon and how complicated your case actually is. During the surgery, your doctor will attempt to reconnect your fallopian tubes. This may involve removing clamps that were attached to your tubes, reattaching your tubes together, or removing blockages that are present inside your tubes.
After the Surgery
After the surgery, you will have to remain in the hospital overnight. This is in order to recover from the anesthetic and to make sure that no complications arise. Some women end up staying in the hospital for up to five days, but this depends upon the speed of your recovery. Total tubal ligation reversal recovery time is usually between four and six weeks.
Tubal reversal surgery is fairly common and is very safe. However, as with any surgical procedure, there is a risk that complications may arise. These complications may include:
- internal or external bleeding
- infection at the incision site
- damage or infection in the surrounding organs
- allergic reactions to anesthetic
Tubal ligation reversal surgery also tends to increase your risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. Generally, about 1 in 100 women have ectopic pregnancies. This surgery appears to increase your risk, though, to 5 in 100.
Some clinics now offer tubal ligation reversals that are completed using microsurgical techniques. If you opt to have this type of tubal reversal, your recovery time will actually be reduced significantly. Because microsurgical instruments are so small, fewer incisions have to be made in order to reattach your tubes. These operations can be performed in a fertility or reproductive clinic using only local anesthetic. Unfortunately, finding a clinic that provides this service can be challenging as microsurgical technology is not yet widely available.
Alternatives to Tubal Reversal Surgery
If you are hesitant to undergo major surgery once again, you may want to consider other options in order to have another child. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is often used by women who have had their fallopian tubes tied but who do not want to undergo the trauma of surgery. However, the price of IVF is often high and the treatment requires a lot of energy and persistence.
When you undergo IVF treatment, you will be asked to take hormonal medications in order to help you to produce mature and viable eggs. When your eggs have matured and are just about ready to begin their journey down your fallopian tubes, a fertility specialist will retrieve the eggs from your body. These eggs will then be fertilized using sperm from your partner. After a few days, your fertilized eggs will be transferred into your uterus for implantation. Typically, the IVF process takes about four to six weeks. On average, about 35% of women conceive using IVF.
Can I Get a Tubal Reversal?
Not every woman who has undergone tubal reversals is able to have the tubal reversal procedure. In order to determine if this procedure is right for you, you will need to have an assessment by a fertility specialist. She will examine your fallopian tubes using an instrument called a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a metal tube with a camera attached to the end, which allows the surgeon to examine the health of your fallopian tubes. Your surgeon will also look over the pathology reports from your tubal ligation surgery, to see how the procedure was actually performed.
When considering you for tubal reversal, your health care provider will consider the following things:
- The procedure that was used to perform your tubal ligation (whether your fallopian tubes were blocked or surgically cut)
- How much of your fallopian tubes remain for reattachment
- How healthy or viable your fallopian tubes are
- Your age and general health
Will The Surgery Allow Me to Get Pregnant?
As with any surgery, there are no guarantees with tubal reversal. Though pregnancy rates are higher with tubal reversal surgery than with IVF, there is still a chance that you may not become pregnant. Chances of pregnancy really depend upon your age and how your original tubal ligation was performed.
Women who are under the age of forty and who have had a traditional tubal ligation reversed, usually have pregnancy rates of between 70% and 80%. These pregnancies typically occur within a year of the tubal reversal surgery. Women who undergo microsurgery to have their tubes reconnected tend to have a higher success rate, with about 90% becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, tubal ligation reversal success rates do tend to decrease with age.