Thinking about a tubal or vasectomy reversal in order to get pregnant? Many women and men undergo reversal surgeries each year. If you choose to do so, there are important factors to consider.

Vasectomy reversal may allow your partner to produce sperm again and have children. Benefits of a vasectomy reversal over IVF include:

  • Your partner will be fertile for many years; with IVF he will only be able to conceive during that particular IVF cycle.
  • Vasectomy reversal may be more cost-effective than IVF.
  • During IVF, both you and your partner will have multiple procedures and multiple doctor visits; vasectomy reversal will require only your partner’s participation.
  • IVF can sometimes increase the chances of having a pregnancy with multiples, which may increase complications during pregnancy.

Having a tubal ligation, or “getting your tubes tied”, as it’s commonly called, is a permanent form of birth control or female sterilization. Reversing a tubal ligation is called tubal reversal. While tubal ligation is a permanent procedure, tubal reversal lets many women get pregnant and have children. If you fit the following criteria, you may be a good candidate for tubal reversal surgery:

  • You have at least one inch of tube coming out of your uterus. Your doctor may determine this by using hysterosalpingography to x-ray your uterus and tubes.
  • You have two and a half inches or more of residual tube with a normal fimbriated end to the tube.
  • You have an adequate numbers of eggs in your ovaries [determined by a simple blood test for FSH (follicle stimulating hormone)].
  • Your partner has healthy sperm.

Your doctor can give you an indication of how successful a tubal reversal might be.

Tubal Reversal Success Rates
If you are under 35 and in good fertile health, your tubal reversal success rate will likely be high. With each month of trying to conceive after a tubal reversal, success rates are lower than typical pregnancy rates of women who have not undergone a tubal reversal. Younger women, especially women under 30, are more likely to have higher tubal reversal success rates. After women hit age 37, the tubal reversal success rates start to decline.

Vasectomy Reversal Success Rates
Most couples take about a year to get pregnant after a vasectomy reversal. Although a few couples conceive after several months, others may take several years to conceive and bring home a baby. Also, vasectomy reversal success rates are higher in couples that have already achieved a healthy pregnancy together.

Before your partner opts for a vasectomy reversal, talk with the doctors about your health, your fertility risk factors, and the odds of conceiving. Your age and reproductive health play a major role in whether you can conceive after a vasectomy reversal. Time is also an important factor. When the reversal is done closer to the time of the original vasectomy, vasectomy reversal success rates are higher.  Some research shows that men undergoing vasectomy reversal 15 years or more after a vasectomy will have a lower chance of success than men who do it earlier.

What kind of tubal ligation did you have?
If you want to reverse tubal ligation, your tubal reversal success rate will depend on the type of procedure you had. If your doctor used a Hulka clip or Falope Rings, you may have a higher tubal reversal success rate. When a doctor performs a tubal ligation with clips or rings, it makes it easier to reconnect the tubes during a tubal reversal. If your tubes were cut or burned during your sterilization procedure, your tubes might be damaged or too short to reconnect. This can lower your tubal reversal success rate.

Other factors that affect tubal reversal success rates include:

  • Your partner’s sperm count
  • The number and health of your eggs
  • Your reproductive health; i.e. absence of disorders like endometriosis

Get a Full Fertility Analysis
You and your partner should make sure you are still producing healthy eggs and sperm before opting for a tubal reversal. If either of you have fertility problems, your tubal reversal success rate may be lower. Before having a tubal reversal, make sure your partner has a sperm analysis. Also, ask your doctor to assess your reproductive health. Keep in mind that the risk of ectopic pregnancy is higher for women who get pregnant after a tubal reversal. Discuss this risk with your doctor and how it will impact your health.

Consider IVF for Conception
The bottom line is some women have low tubal reversal success rates even if they are in good health. That’s when in vitro fertilization (IVF) becomes a viable option to get pregnant.

If you are over 35, or if you or your partner is struggling with fertility problems, talk to your doctor about IVF to see if this may be a better option for you.