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5 Truths About Pregnancy After Tubal Ligation You Need to Know

You’ve 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? After all, everyone has heard about rare cases in which a pregnancy after tubal ligation occurs. 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:

  1. Pregnancy after tubal ligation is…

What does it mean to have a pregnancy after a 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 pregnancy after a tubal ligation, although highly uncommon, refers to the event when a woman still becomes pregnant after having undergone the procedure.

  1. It is very uncommon

How typical is pregnancy after tubal ligation? Not very. But, it still happens. Official estimates show that within 10 years of having the procedure done, between 18 to 37 women out of 1,000 become pregnant. That means there’s about a 2 to 4% chance it might happen. In these cases, the woman’s tubes grow back together, making pregnancy possible again. But, it really depends on your age. The older you are, the lower your chances of pregnancy after tubal ligation. There’s only about a 1% chance for women age 34 and older.

  1. Tubal ligation is not easily reversible

Although it’s possible to undergo surgery to reverse the procedure so that you can become pregnant after tubal ligation, it doesn’t always work. A reversal isn’t possible in all cases. It depends on how long ago you had the procedure done and how damaged your tubes are as a result.

Generally speaking, tubal ligation is permanent, meaning there’s no going back. If there’s any possibility that you may want to have another baby, don’t get a tubal ligation. Instead, use another non-permanent form of birth control.

  1. It could have happened 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 done just after childbirth to eliminate this possibility. Another optimal time to have the surgery is just after a menstrual period.

  1. It 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 in 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, a tubal ligation is an effective permanent form of birth control that leaves a minimal possibility for a pregnancy afterward. Yes, there are some cases that crop up. But, for most women, the risk is very low.

Just to be sure, if you have had the procedure or will have it soon, you should know the signs of pregnancy after tubal ligation. That way, if you experience any symptoms, you can seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Pregnancy After Tubal Ligation

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

  • 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 that tips you off.
  • 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 in hormones 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 other related symptoms common in 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 after you’ve missed a period, you can take a home pregnancy test that’s likely to be accurate.

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

Pregnancy, Parenting, Baby, Health

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:

  • Abnormal Bleeding: If you’re not expecting your period but have bleeding that’s 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.

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 pregnancy after tubal ligation is low. So, if you experience symptoms, there’s most likely another explanation. In any case, it’s best to speak with your medical professional to ensure that you 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 for STIs.

Pregnancy, Parenting, Baby, Health

The Bottom Line on Pregnancy After Tubal Ligation

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 after a tubal ligation.

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 pregnancy after tubal ligation? Share it with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Rachel is a freelance writer, blogger, Montessori teacher and mama to two. She lives in a valley surrounded by volcanoes in Guatemala where her husband provides her with a steady flow of fresh, homegrown coffee.You can follow her blog at

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