Is female sterilisation reversible?
A procedure to cut, seal or block a woman's fallopian tubes is a form of sterilisation. It is considered a permanent form of contraception.
However, if a woman's circumstances change, and she'd like to have children, can this procedure be reversed?
The answer is yes, the procedure can be reversed with fallopian tubes being reconnected, but this doesn't necessarily mean fertility will be restored so that she can become pregnant.
Sterilisation reversal is not usually available on the NHS, so would need to be paid for privately.
Re-connecting fallopian tubes
The surgery to re-connect fallopian tubes is called 'tubal reversal surgery' or tubal re-anastomosis.
Tubal reversal surgery is performed either through a laparoscopy (‘key-hole) or a laparotomy procedure. Both closed ends of the fallopian tubes are cut off and the tubes joined together again. A test is then done with special dye to make sure the tubes are able to work correctly.
After a laparotomy, the hospital stay may be as short as 1 or 2 nights. Post-operative recovery may take 3 to 6 weeks. Recovery is much faster following laparoscopic surgery, and the woman may be able to go home within hours.
The success rate of a tubal reversal surgery depends on two major factors: the original surgery done for the sterilisation, and the remaining length of the fallopian tube.
Tubal re-anastomosis surgery is more successful after tubal sterilisation performed by cutting the tubes or where rings or clips have been used to block the tube.
Adequate tubal length - pregnancy is least likely to occur in women with shortened fallopian tubes of less than 4cm.
The procedure has a lower chance of success where the tubes are severely scarred.