Can You Get Pregnant With Your Tubes Tied?

What you need to know about the risks of getting pregnant after tubal ligation.

Getting your tubes tied is an incredibly effective way to prevent pregnancy, but it isn't 100% guaranteed. During the procedure —known as tubal ligation— the fallopian tubes are either cut, tied, or blocked as a form of permanent birth control (sterilization), according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

This not only prevents an egg from traveling from the ovaries to the fallopian tubes, but it also prevents any sperm from traveling up the fallopian tubes to meet an egg.

While tubal ligation is one of the most effective forms of birth control, it has its flaws. There is still a small chance of becoming pregnant after having your tubes tied. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the rate of pregnancy is one in 1,000 after the first year, and between two and 10 in 1,000 after five years.

"Pregnancies have been reported after surgical sterilization but are rare," Eleanor Schwarz, MD, a women's health researcher and professor of medicine at the University of California Davis, Sacramento, told Health. "Most couples do not have to worry about getting pregnant if they have sex after a woman 'has her tubes tied.'"

Additional Risks

Another thing to be aware of is that if you do happen to get pregnant after tying your tubes, you have a higher risk of having an ectopic, or tubal, pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies occur when the fertilized egg begins to grow outside of the uterus, usually inside the fallopian tubes. They can cause the tube to rupture and are potentially fatal, according to ACOG.

Adding a secondary form of birth control, like a condom or a vasectomy, would be one way to get even further protection. "The most effective way for men to avoid an undesired pregnancy is for him to undergo vasectomy," said Dr. Schwarz.

Can You Reverse a Tubal Ligation?

Tubal ligation is meant to be permanent, and you should not plan to do it if you want to become pregnant in the future, per the ACOG. It's possible to reverse a tubal ligation with another surgical procedure, but there's no guarantee that it will work. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the success rate is estimated to be between 25 and 80%, and the procedure would increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

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