5 Truths about Pregnancy after Tubal Ligation

Have you been dying to know how well a tubal ligation will prevent a future pregnancy? Will it work for you? Is it worth going through the procedure? How much risk is there?

Eventually, everyone has heard about the rare cases where pregnancy occurs after tubal ligation. Whether you saw the statistics or know someone who experienced it first-hand, the thought of an unexpected pregnancy after getting your tubes tied can be terrifying.

The best antidote for fear and anxiety before making any final decisions about getting the procedure done, or to put your worries to rest after having gone through a tubal ligation, is information. Here are the 5 truths every woman should know about pregnancy after tubal ligation:

You can get pregnant after tubal ligation

First, you must understand what a tubal ligation is. This surgical procedure is performed to cut, tie, clamp or band the fallopian tubes shut. As a result, it is impossible for the eggs in your ovaries to reach your uterus, where fertilization typically occurs.

A tubal ligation is a form of permanent birth control, so women becoming pregnant after the procedure is highly uncommon.

Pregnancy after tubal sterilization is uncommon

But pregnancy after tubal ligation can still happen.

Official estimates show that within 10 years of having the tubal ligation done, between 18 to 37 women out of 1,000 become pregnant. That means there’s about a 2% to 4% chance pregnancy might happen. In these cases, the women’s tubes grow back together, making pregnancy possible again. But your age plays a significant role. The older you are, the lower your chances of pregnancy after tubal sterilization. There’s only about a 1% chance for women age 34 and older.

Tubal ligation can be reversed

Although it’s possible to undergo surgery to change the procedure so that you can become pregnant again, it doesn’t always work. And it isn’t always possible. How long ago you have the tubal ligation and how damaged your tubes have an impact on the possibility of reversal.

Generally speaking, tubal ligation is permanent. If there’s any possibility that you may want to have another baby, do not get a tubal ligation. Instead, use another non-permanent form of birth control.

Pregnancy can happen before the procedure

In some cases, women are pregnant when they go into tubal ligation surgery, which can be quite a surprise! Many women choose to have a tubal ligation procedure just after childbirth to eliminate this possibility. Another optimal time is just after a menstrual period.

Pregnancy could be ectopic

One risk factor for ectopic pregnancy is having had your tubes tied. In this type of pregnancy, a fertilized egg begins to grow in one of the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. This dangerous situation can result in a ruptured tube and significant internal bleeding. Pregnancy after tubal ligation is more likely to be ectopic than pregnancies in women who haven’t had the procedure done.

As you can see, tubal ligation is an effective form of permanent birth control that leaves a minimal possibility for pregnancy afterwards. Yes, there are some cases that crop up, but for most women, the risk is very low.

If you have had the procedure or will have it soon, you should know the signs of pregnancy after tubal sterilization. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

Symptoms of Pregnancy After Tubal Ligation

Pregnancy after tubal ligation results in the same symptoms that any pregnancy brings. However, be aware of the signs of ectopic pregnancies, which are more common following a tubal ligation. Here’s what to look for:

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  • Vaginal Discharge: Implantation can cause light spotting and cramping. You may think it’s the start of your period, but if your full period never comes, it could be the sign of pregnancy.
  • Tender Breasts: The hormonal changes associated with early pregnancy may result in pain or tenderness, swollenness, or other changes in the breasts.
  • Tiredness: Hormones are to blame again! Changes may cause you to experience fatigue, even within a week after conceiving.
  • Morning Sickness: While not all women experience this symptom, it is a tell-tale sign of pregnancy. Nausea can happen at any time of the day, although the morning is often the worst. Cravings and food aversions are also symptoms commonly related to early pregnancy.
  • Missed Period: If you miss a period, you could be pregnant. But, you may have missed your period for another reason. The good news is when you’ve missed a period, you can take a home pregnancy test.

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If you’re not sure, you can always take a home pregnancy test or visit your gynecologist. That way, you’ll have peace of mind and address any other medical issues you may be experiencing.

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Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms

After a tubal ligation, your risk of ectopic pregnancy is higher. In an ectopic pregnancy, you may experience the above symptoms, but may also notice:

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  • Abnormal Bleeding: If you’re not expecting your period but have bleeding that’s either light or heavy, it could be related to an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Pain: You may experience abdominal pain similar to cramps, or sharper pain. Pain can also be felt in your shoulder if a ruptured fallopian tube results in internal bleeding.
  • Dizziness: A loss of blood may leave you feeling dizzy, faint and/or weak.

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An ectopic pregnancy requires immediate medical attention since the condition may be life-threatening. Surgery is often needed to remove the pregnancy and stop or prevent internal bleeding.

Remember, the risk of getting pregnant after tubal ligation is low. So, if you experience symptoms of pregnancy, there’s most likely another explanation. In any case, it’s best to speak with a medical professional to get to the bottom of it.

It’s also important to note that while tubal ligation can prevent pregnancies, it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs). If you have sex with a non-monogamous or new partner, be sure to use a condom until you can both be tested.

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The Bottom Line on Pregnancy After Tubal Sterilization

Tubal ligation is one of the most effective methods of permanent birth control. Especially if you’re over the age of 34 and have the procedure done following childbirth, it’s doubtful that you’ll get pregnant again.

This form of birth control is also complicated to reverse. If you are young or have even the slightest question in your mind about getting pregnant in the future, choose another form of birth control. There are many options out there; make sure you find the one that’s right for you.

Do you have an experience or comment to share about sterilization? Share it with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Sources

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Sterilization-by-Laparoscopy, https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Ectopic-Pregnancy

https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/what-is-tubal-ligation, https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-am-i-pregnant#1

http://www.upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/contraception/Pages/tubal-ligation.aspx

 

Feature Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/belly-pregnant-woman-close-up-1434852/



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