Treatments & Options - Surgery - Success Rates

Your doctor may prescribe surgery for infertility treatment. Here, we review the success rates of surgery for endometriosis, tubal factor infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and reversals.

Endometriosis success
The most effective endometriosis infertility treatment is a surgical procedure called laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is an outpatient surgical procedure that allows your doctor to both evaluate and treat endometriosis and other diseases, improving pregnancy rates for some women. Success rates for endometriosis surgery are conflicting, and vary based on severity. Notice the following:

  • About 60 to 80 percent of women undergoing laparoscopy as treatment for endometriosis report reduced pain and bleeding after surgery.
  • Women with severe endometriosis (Stage III/IV) can benefit from surgery for endometriosis depending on several factors. Benefits of laparoscopy for women with minimal or suspected endometriosis are far less certain.
  • For mild endometriosis, at least one study has shown that for every 12 patients undergoing surgery for endometriosis, only one patient was able to achieve a pregnancy.
  • For women with previous surgery for endometriosis, it has been reported that additional surgery has NOT been shown to improve pregnancy rates.

Overall, surgery for a woman who is diagnosed with a few spots of endometriosis may not benefit as much as a woman with a severe case of endometriosis.

Tubal surgery success
Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes can cause fertility problems. Thankfully, surgical procedures can heal blockages in the tubes, helping women with tubal issues get pregnant. Tubal surgery can also reduce scar tissue build-up in the fallopian tubes, restoring tubal health and fertility. However, for chronically damaged tubes after tubal disease, tubal surgery fails quite often. Scar tissue often reforms, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be a better option for those women who are trying to conceive. Ask your doctor for more details about this surgery option.

Ovarian drilling success
Ovarian drilling breaks through the ovary's thick outer layer, destroys small portions of it, and boosts fertility. After ovarian drilling, testosterone production decreases and many women ovulate more regularly. Here are some facts about pregnancy success after ovarian drilling:

  • If your periods become regular after ovarian drilling, your chances of pregnancy are good. Those whose cycles do not become more regular may have better success in getting pregnant with the help of fertility drugs.
  • About half of all women that go through with ovarian drilling become pregnant within one year.
  • For some women, the benefits of ovarian drilling are short-lived. PCOS symptoms and fertility problems may return over time, and your periods could become irregular again.

Reversal success
Success rates for surgical reversals vary depending on the type of sterilization and reversal procedures performed. We discuss reversal success rates in depth in the Topic Center Fertility Treatments and Reversals.

Here is a quick overview of success rates for tubal ligation reversal surgery and vasectomy reversal surgery:

  • Women under age 35 have a 70 to 80 percent chance of getting pregnant within a year after tubal reversal.
  • Women over 40 have about a 30 percent chance of getting pregnant in the first year after tubal reversal.
  • 50 to 70 percent of men have children after the vasectomy reversal surgery called vasovasostomy (VV).
  • 20 to 40 percent of men have children after the vasectomy reversal surgery called vasoepididymostomy (VE).

As you can see, the risks and benefits of infertility surgery must be weighed by you and your treatment team on an individual basis. Each person’s scenario is different so you must do what is best for your situation.

Contributing authors: Dr. Colleen Casey at Center for Reproductive Medicine (Minnesota) and Dr. Matthew Will at Midwest Fertility

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