If you’ve finished building your family, it’s common to take more permanent measures to prevent pregnancy. From having an IUD inserted to surgical procedures like a tubal ligation or male vasectomy, there are plenty of options. But what if your situation changes? If you decide that you’d like to have another baby – whether it’s to add to your own family or to help someone else as a gestational surrogate – can you get pregnant after a tubal ligation?
Read on for everything you need to know about conception and IVF after tubal ligation.
Tubal ligation, sometimes referred to as getting your “tubes tied,” is an interruption of the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. Typically, it involves the surgical removal of the middle section of the tubes. This requires about a week of light bed-rest, followed by a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) three months later to check the tubes. Using x-ray technology, HSG uses dye to show the flow from the uterus and fallopian tubes into the uterine cavity. This will confirm blockages that prevent pregnancy – which is, of course, the goal after a tubal ligation.
The chances are slim: about 1 in 1,000 after the first year and between 2-10 in 1,000 after 5 years. While most women can successfully have a tubal ligation, reversal so that you can intentionally become pregnant is not a guarantee. It requires enough healthy tissue on both ends of the tube for it to reconnect and open all the way through to function properly. Even then, 20% of women will have so much scar tissue that the flow of the tube is blocked. HSG is done again after a reversal to check for proper flow.
There is also a greater risk for ectopic pregnancy after a tubal reversal. Typically, a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus; in an ectopic pregnancy, it most often attaches in the fallopian tube. The pregnancy cannot proceed normally, and if left untreated it can be life threatening. After a tubal reversal, the risk for an ectopic pregnancy is about 10 to 20 percent.
So how likely is it to get pregnant after a tubal ligation? Ultimately, the success rate for pregnancy following a tubal reversal is about 40 percent in women under 37.
A great option to pursue pregnancy following a tubal ligation is through in vitro fertilization (IVF); in fact, the process is not any more complicated to do with your tubes tied. In natural conception, the egg must travel through the fallopian tube to be fertilized by sperm. With IVF, pregnancy can occur bypassing the fallopian tubes all together. It gives patients a higher chance of pregnancy in the shortest amount of time without having a significant surgical procedure. If you don’t want to have another tubal ligation after the pregnancy or deal with another method of birth control long term, it can be a great solution.
Another pressing question about tubal ligation and fertility treatment: does insurance cover IVF after tubal ligation? In most cases, no. Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover IVF under any circumstance in many states. It’s something to investigate with your carrier, but many will not cover IVF after a voluntary tubal ligation.
Yes! It could actually mean you’re a great candidate for surrogacy; you have proven fertility and are most likely done building your own family, both of which are important qualities for a gestational carrier. Plus – and this is also a critical point – it’s extremely unlikely you’ll become pregnant on your own before the embryo transfer. Because the egg will be from the intended mother or an egg donor, your ovaries and fallopian tubes will not be involved in the process at all.
As Dr. Channing Burks Chatmon, a Reproductive Endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois explains, professionals are available to help you through these and many other issues related to family building.
And, are you a woman who enjoyed a healthy and successful pregnancy? Do you have friends or family who have suffered from infertility or need assistance from someone else to build their family? Have you ever considered the role you could play in helping someone else build their family - as a surrogate? Learn more about the process of helping someone else's dream of building a family come true. We would love to talk with you.