Topic Overview

Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure in which a
woman’s
fallopian tubes are blocked, cut, or sealed to prevent
her eggs from traveling from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes, where they
could be fertilized by a sperm.

Tubal ligation is a highly effective form of
birth control that is almost always permanent.
Reversing a tubal ligation by reattaching the cut or sealed ends of the tubes
is a major surgery.

The success of surgery to reverse a tubal ligation depends on:

  • The tubal ligation method that was originally
    used. Clips and rings (such as the Hulka clip, Filshie clip, and Falope rings) are successfully reversed the
    most often. Electrocautery is least likely to be successfully reversed.
  • Time. The less time that has passed since the tubal ligation was
    done, the more likely it is that the reversal surgery will be successful.
  • Condition of the tubes. The more the tubes are damaged, the less
    likely the reversal is to be successful.

Depending on the method used for tubal ligation and how much of the
fallopian tube is damaged after tubal ligation, success rates for reversals are
about 70% to 80%.footnote 1

Women who have had a tubal ligation reversed have a
higher-than-average risk of a fertilized egg implanting in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy)
rather than in the uterus. This can become a life-threatening emergency.

Other considerations about having a tubal ligation reversed include
the following:

  • The surgery takes several hours, and most women
    are hospitalized for at least 2 days.
  • The surgery can cost more
    than $10,000. Most insurance companies do not pay for the procedure. And it is
    not covered by U.S. government programs such as Medicaid or military health
    insurance.
  • There is no guarantee that you will be able to become
    pregnant after having the reversal.

    • Surgeons usually refuse to perform the
      surgery if they think there is little chance that it will be
      successful.
    • About half of the women who request reversal are turned
      down.
    • About half of the women who have the surgery will become
      pregnant.

References

Citations

  1. Speroff L, Darney PD (2011). Sterilization. In A Clinical Guide for Contraception, 5th ed., pp. 381-404. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rebecca Sue Uranga, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017