Pregnant After Sterilization

Pregnant Despite Sterilization

1619862628 | fizkes | shutterstock.com

Can You Get Pregnant After Tubal Ligation or Vasectomy?

  • Sterilization (both male and female) is generally considered one of the safest contraceptive methods available. Nevertheless, pregnancies sometimes occur despite sterilization.
  • The probability of this happening is extremely low. Only 1-3 in 1,000 women become pregnant every year after sterilization.
  • Reasons for this are: surgical mistakes, the operating doctor missing something, or recanalization (growing back together) after a vasectomy.

You may like:

 

Probability and Causes

Pregnancies can still occur after vasectomies or tubal ligations. Here is an overview of the probability and the possible reasons:

 

Male Sterilization

Female Sterilization

Chances of Pregnancy

Pearl Index: 0.1 - 0.15
(1-2 of 1,000 women
per year)

Pearl Index: 0.2 - 0.3
(2-3 of 1,000 women
per year)

Reasons / Causes

  • Surgical mistake

  • Remaining sperm during the short time interval following the surgery

  • Recanalization: vas deferens grows back together

  • Surgical mistake

  • Ineffectual method

  • Recanalization: fallopian tubes grow back together

 

Pregnant After Vasectomy

The Pearl Index (a measure of the safety of contraceptive methods) for male sterilization is approx. 0.1-0.15. This means that one to two women in 1,000 a year, who rely on vasectomy for contraception, will get pregnant.

Even after a vasectomy, which is supposed to result in infertility, pregnancies can still occur.

Possible Reasons:

  • Complications during surgery or an unnoticed mistake.
  • Sperm, present in the seminal vesicle or the seminal duct at the time of the procedure, may still be in the semen. This sperm would be capable of fertilization weeks, or even months, after the vasectomy. Therefore, it is common practice to have a semen analysis two months after the procedure to determine whether sterilization was indeed successful. Meanwhile, backup birth control methods are used. If this is not taken into consideration, pregnancy may occur.
  • While rare, the severed vas deferens may regenerate in the first few months after the vasectomy and grow back to create a new connection. This is called recanalization. For this reason, one or two follow-up visits are encouraged. Very rarely, recanalization happens years after the procedure, enabling the man to procreate again. Therefore, in some cases, pregnancies may occur years after a successful sterilization by vasectomy.

 

Pregnancy Despite Tubal Ligation

The Pearl index is slightly higher for female sterilization (0.2 - 0.3) than for vasectomy. This means that two to three out of every 1,000 women become pregnant after having their fallopian tubes sealed or severed (having tubes tied).

Possible Reasons:

  • Complications are possible in this procedure.
  • Additionally, the kind of surgical sterilization method chosen can make a difference. Severing or cauterizing the fallopian tubes is generally more reliable than clamping them.
  • While rare, the uterus and the ovaries may reconnect via new channels. This is also called recanalization. It occurs more frequently in younger than in older women.

 

👤 What personality type are you, and how does this affect your pregnancy? Take the free Personality Test

 

Am I Pregnant Despite Sterilization?

You may feel very confused at the moment: You or your partner have been sterilized and the possibility of a pregnancy was completely out of the question... But now you are noticing pregnancy symptoms.

Start by taking a deep breath. Your overdue period doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you are pregnant. A woman's monthly cycle, which usually continues after tubal litigation, is very sensitive. Many external factors such as stress, diet, long distance travel, infections, or medications can cause a delay.

You may also be experiencing a non-viable pregnancy. If fertilization of an egg occurs despite female sterilization, the risk of an ectopic pregnancy is increased. It is also possible that you are having an abdominal pregnancy. We recommend that you have this checked by your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

You may like:

 

Unintended Pregnancy After Sterilization — Now What?

If you are pregnant in spite of sterilization, this news may have pulled the rug right out from under your feet... After all, sterilization gives you a sense of finality, which makes this pregnancy completely unexpected. Your pregnancy may have also gone unnoticed for a while, especially since, unlike condoms, sterilizations don’t come with classic "contraceptive failures.”

Suggestions:

  1. 🕰 Take a deep breath! Give yourself some time to let this unexpected situation sink in. You may find it helpful to start by taking all your thoughts and emotions into account. By doing so, you will be able to ascertain which path is most consistent with who you are.
  2. 🗣 Share: Find a safe place to share. Our team of compassionate experts has also created judgement-free resources for you:  
    • Take the Solutions Finder Test. This test provides an opportunity for you to look at your situation objectively and to know that you are understood.
    • Taking our free Abortion Test may also help as you wade through the “whys” and “what ifs.”
  3. 🤔 Why me? Perhaps it would be helpful to ask why life is unexpectedly putting you in this extraordinary situation. What could be the meaning behind a "miraculous" pregnancy after sterilization?

 

Sterilization Facts

Sterilization is the world’s number one method of birth control. 222.4 million women worldwide rely on sterilization. On average, 18.9% of the world’s population relies on female sterilization, whereas 8.4% of sexually active adults name vasectomies as their method of birth control. Europe has much lower numbers than the rest of the world, at 3.8% for tubal ligations and 2.7% for vasectomies. (Source: O’Neill Institute, 2018)

 

Vasectomies

  • Male sterilizations (vasectomies) involve the severing and possible shortening of the two sperm ducts (vas deferens) in the scrotum. This prevents sperm from entering the semen (ejaculate). The ends of the vas deferens are sealed by cauterization, tying, chemical substances and/or titanium clips.
  • The procedure of a vasectomy is less complicated and faster than female sterilization, which involves greater surgical risks.
  • Hormones and sperm are still produced, by which erectile function is maintained; they are now broken down in the male body.
  • Risk Factors: Sterilization can place a man under emotional strain. One to two percent of men experience physical complications, such as testicular infections, bruising or inflammation. Chronic pain (post-vasectomy pain syndrome) is a possible side effect.

 

Tubal Ligations

  • Sterilization of women by tubal ligation is a surgical procedure involving the clamping, severing, or cauterizing of both fallopian tubes. This prevents egg cells from entering the uterus and fusing with a male sperm cell. The procedure is performed by laparoscopy or laparotomy.
  • After sterilization, the ovaries continue to produce hormones and ova (egg cells). Therefore, ovulation still occurs, but the egg cells are now transported via the mucous membranes of the fallopian tube into the abdominal cavity, where they are broken down. The procedure can lead to decreased blood supply to the ovaries, which in rare cases can impair their function, including their hormone production.
  • Risk Factors: Mood swings, insomnia, low libido and hot flashes are common side effects. Other physical risks and complications of tubal ligations include bleeding, infections and damage to internal organs. Many women report experiencing depression or anxiety following the procedure.


You my also like:

Did you find the information in this article helpful?