Expanding Your Family – Tubal Reversal or IVF?

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tubes untied

Tubal ligation is a permanent sterilization procedure that is commonly known as getting your tubes tied.  Across the world, permanent contraception methods like tubal ligation are the most common form of family planning; in the United States, millions of women have undergone tubal sterilization making it the second most popular choice of birth control after the pill. 

Tubal Ligation surgery is when a woman’s fallopian tubes are disrupted which then prevents sperm and egg from meeting.  There are many different ways of disrupting the tubes and they include removing the end of the tube, removing middle segments of the tube, clipping the tube, burning the tube, and scarring the tube near its entry into the uterus.  

When women consider having a tubal ligation, they usually spend a lot of time thinking about the consequences of being permanently sterilized.  And those that choose to have the procedure performed should be confident in their decision.  However, as we know, the future is not always straightforward and simple.  

What happens if plans change and a woman decides she wants to have a child after she has had her tubes tied?  Interestingly, it turns out that over 10% of women who have undergone a tubal ligation surgery end up seeking out information on fertility options later. Proceeding with trying to get pregnant after having a tubal ligation can seem overwhelming, but there are options available. 

Tube Reversal to Get Pregnant

One option is to try and reverse the surgery by reopening or reconnecting the tubes.  Whether or not a tubal reversal is possible depends on the type of tubal ligation the patient had.  Some have a possibility of being reversed but others do not. Knowing what specific kind of procedure was performed and speaking to your doctor about what options are available is the best way to know whether or not reversing a tubal ligation is the right choice to make. If it is, then the reversal surgery involves a small abdominal incision where a surgeon uses micro-surgical techniques to restore the connection between tube segments.

As with any surgery, there are risks, some of which include further damage to the reproductive system. However, if the surgery is successful, women will have the opportunity to get pregnant through traditional methods. This is appealing because it opens up the option for a woman to get pregnant multiple times in the future although there is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies. 

IVF vs. Tube Reversal

Instead of surgery, most women will do IVF.  IVF success rates have been rising over the years and top notch IVF clinics are becoming more accessible to prospective parents.  An IVF procedure involves removing eggs from the ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm in the laboratory.  After culturing these fertilized eggs and embryos for several days, an embryo can be inserted back into the uterus to attach to the uterine wall and grow into a healthy baby!

Tubal ligation patients usually prefer this method because it is safer and less invasive than reversal surgery. IVF is also appealing because unlike reversal surgery, once a baby has been delivered there is no need to worry about other methods of contraception, as the fallopian tubes are still blocked off. This ensures there will be no risk of unwanted pregnancies in the future and gives parents a sense of security and autonomy over how they create their family. 

 

Cost

The costs between tubal ligation reversal and IVF vary. For reversal, prices of the surgery can be widely different depending on the area you live, the surgeon you work with, the hospital you go to, and the insurance that you have (many of which do not cover reversal surgery). It is also key to note that an experienced surgeon in this field is critical, as microsurgery is a very delicate and difficult procedure. 

The benefit to the often high cost of reversal surgery comes with the per cycle cost compared to IVF. If a surgery is successful, you have a chance each month to get pregnant. This is appealing to many couples as it opens up their options for a long term window of building their family. However, some couples struggle to get pregnant after surgery, and if they cannot get pregnant they may have to seek out IVF treatment anyway. 

IVF Higher Success Rates

IVF usually has a higher chance of conception per cycle, but does have a cost per cycle that can be undesirable to people if they are unsure if it will work well for them. Usually, the chances of a successful pregnancy depend on age and health. 

Tubal Ligation Reversal Success Rates

Tubal ligation reversal success rates range drastically from 55% up to 80%. One study found a successful pregnancy rate of about 70% within 18 months of a successful surgery. However, when broken down into a success per cycle figure, pregnancy rates are less than 5% in most studies. 

Success rates of reversal surgery drop steadily with age, in which case IVF is usually recommended to provide the highest chance of a healthy pregnancy. Although IVF success rates are also affected by age, the chances of pregnancy per cycle are significantly higher, and as the embryo helps get a jumpstart in life, there are fewer factors that could interrupt a successful pregnancy. 

IVF or Tube Reversal?

If a couple is older, or if they have other infertility risks at play, then IVF is the best opportunity for a healthy pregnancy. Reproductive Health and Wellness Center has experts in the IVF field that have been working with a diverse range of infertility cases for years and have helped give them successful pregnancies through IVF procedures. 

Knowing which option would provide the best chances of pregnancy is difficult. With so many factors, from success rates and post-procedure recovery, to costs and how many children are desired in the future, making the right call can seem daunting. 

IVF for Patients w/ Tubes Tied

Ultimately, working closely with a trusted professional fertility doctor will ensure the best care and help determine the correct plan for your exact situation. At Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, we have specialists that have extensive experience with tubal ligation patients. We are open for consultations either over the phone or in person, and encourage patients to reach out if they have any questions at all!  Please call 949-516-0606 or click here to book a consultation.

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