Tubal ligation reversal is a medical procedure that reverses female sterilization. Female sterilization is a popular family planning method. It is 99.5% effective in preventing pregnancy (American Pregnancy Association, 2011).
Fallopian tubes, also known as oviducts, are two symmetrical tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. Fallopian tubes do not only act as conduits but also catch the ovum and conduct it towards the uterus. Fertilization occurs in the fallopian tube. Remember, neither an ovum nor a fertilized egg can move on its own. The tubes act as the channel and transporter of the ovum and the fertilized egg. The fertilized egg travels through the tube to the uterus where it deposits into the endometrium. Fallopian tubes provide the conditions and environment for fertilization. It is here that conception takes place.
In tubal ligation, the fallopian tube is closed so that eggs can no longer pass through. But 5% to 10% of women who have had tubal ligation later regret their decision. The change of heart may be due to changes in marital status, financial capability, religion and loss of a child.
Tubal ligation reversal typically takes 2 to 3 hours. You will be placed under general anesthesia. To make your fallopian tubes function again, your doctor will reattach, unclamp, place an implant or take out any blockages in your fallopian tubes. You may have to stay for 1 to 5 days in hospital after the surgery. After leaving the hospital, you should be back to normal in 4 to 6 weeks.
Although rare, complications such as infections, bleeding, damage to organs and complications from the anesthetic may arise from a tubal ligation reversal procedure.
Advances in technology have made it possible for tubal ligation reversals to be done in an hour or less and on an outpatient basis. This new procedure only needs local anesthesia for the surgery. It is much less invasive than the typical tubal reversal. Because of this, complications arising from the procedure are significantly reduced.
Age is a huge factor in determining female fertility. As you age, your fertility decreases. This can be seen as decreased ovarian function in older women. Female fertility starts to decline at about age 35. With age the risk of miscarriages, complications during pregnancy and malformations in the newborn increases. A study showed only 14.3% of women above 40 years old who underwent tubal ligation reversal were able to give birth to live babies (Emedicine, 2011). However properly preparing for pregnancy can minimize your risk of age related complications even if you are over 40.
Women who have had their tubes reconstructed are at an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies. If you have had tubal reversal, closely monitor your pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies, when identified early, can be managed safely and easily. You should notify your doctor within two weeks of missing a period. Your doctor will be able to see where the implantation site is early on in the pregnancy. In the sixth week, an ultrasound should be able to show an intrauterine sac. If the intrauterine sac is not present, you will have to undergo surgery to manage the ectopic pregnancy.
About 4% to 10% of women who have had tubal reversal had an ectopic pregnancy. The risk of ectopic pregnancies is comparable to women who underwent Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). Women who underwent ART have a 2% to 11% risk of ectopic pregnancy (Emedicine, 2011).
Throughout the United States, the typical cost of tubal ligation reversal ranges from $10,000 to $15,000. In most cases, tubal reversal is not covered by health insurance.
Iva Keene is co-founder and director of Natural-Fertility-Prescription.com. She has been a qualified, accredited Naturopathic Physician for over 13 years, holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Science and a Masters degree in Reproductive Medicine. Since founding NFP in 2008, Iva's articles, videos, guides and reports have reached over 1.3 million people. Iva has dedicated her professional life to supporting couples on their path to parenthood with scientifically grounded information, protocols and coaching around preconception care, natural infertility treatments and integrative reproductive health.