For a variety of reasons including the desire to mitigate health risks, manage pelvic pain (caused by endometriosis), or due to family planning or lifestyle factors, some women choose to prevent the possibility of pregnancy by undergoing a surgical procedure called tubal ligation, during which the fallopian tubes are tied (or burned) to prevent eggs from passing from the ovaries to the womb. However, what happens when some of these women choose later in life to restore their ability to become pregnant? That is where tubal reversal may be the answer.
What is Tubal Reversal?
As the term suggests, the tubal reversal ( also known as tubal re-anastomosis ) is a surgical procedure used to reverse tubal ligation, re-establish fertility, and make possible once again the natural process of conception.
Tubal reversal surgery typically takes between two and three hours, and in most cases overnight stay in the hospital is not necessary. The patient is given general anesthesia, followed by a laparoscopy to assess the length and health of the fallopian tubes that need to be reconnected. If the microsurgeon confirms that it is safe to proceed, she or he will administer a small incision (called a “bikini cut”) just above the pubic hair line. A microscope is then used to allow the surgeon reconnect the tube with an ultra-fine suture. Recovery times varies, but most patients return to normal day-to-day activities in about two weeks.
The success of tubal reversal surgery depends on some integrated factors, including:
- Age at the time of the surgery
- The method that was used to perform the tubal ligation surgery
- The amount and extent of scar tissue on the pelvis
- The health of the fallopian tube segments that must be rejoined
Provided that the surgery is performed by an experienced microsurgeon, and there are no additional infertility factors ( e.g. sperm test results of the partner are sufficient, erectile dysfunction is not an issue ), then the likelihood of conception within a year is 75-80 percent.
As with any kind of surgery, there are risks with the tubal reversal. These include (but are not limited to) bleeding, infection, issues that arise from administering general anesthesia, and potential damage to other organs. Also, the risk of a tubal pregnancy (also known as an ectopic pregnancy) increases from 1 in 100 pregnancies, to 5 in 100 pregnancies. A tubal pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches implants itself outside the uterus. The chances of a healthy pregnancy may diminish after a tubal pregnancy.
Are You a Candidate?
If you have no medical or health contraindications to becoming pregnant, and if there is an adequate amount of fallopian tube segments that can be rejoined, then you may be a candidate for tubal reversal. Speak with your OB-GYN for additional details. If you do not have one at the current time, speak with your family doctor and ask for a referral.