Tubal ligation is a permanent method of birth control in which a woman's fallopian tubes are surgically cut, tied, burned or banded shut. The cut or blocked tubes prevent sperm from reaching a woman's eggs. While very unlikely, it is possible for a pregnancy to occur after a tubal ligation. Pregnancy symptoms are likely to be similar to those experienced by women who have not a tubal ligation.
Likelihood of Pregnancy
Tubal ligation is one of the most effective methods of birth control: fewer than one out of 100 women will get pregnant after having a tubal ligation. In rare cases, however, a woman's fallopian tubes are able to grow back together after a tubal ligation, allowing pregnancy to occur.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Since tubal ligation has no impact on a woman's hormones, the symptoms of pregnancy after a tubal ligation are generally the same as those experienced by women who have not undergone the procedure. Most women experience normal menstruation after a tubal ligation, so a missed period may be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Other common early symptoms include light spotting about six to 12 days after conception, tender breasts, nausea or vomiting, and fatigue. Symptoms of pregnancy differ from woman to woman, however, and some women may experience no symptoms other than a missed period.
Women who get pregnant after a tubal ligation are at a much higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants itself someplace other than the uterus. Common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include irregular vaginal bleeding or pain in the abdomen or shoulder. If not promptly treated, an ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening.
Impact on Fetus
If you become pregnant after a tubal ligation and your pregnancy is not ectopic, you don't need to worry about your tubal ligation harming the fetus. Since tubal ligation only affects the fallopian tubes, it will have no future affect on the pregnancy once the fertilized egg successfully implants in the uterus. For this reason, women who change their minds about having a baby after tubal ligation are often advised to try in vitro fertilization.
When to See Your Doctor
Because prenatal care is important for your baby's health, it's important to take a pregnancy test or see your doctor if you suspect that you may be pregnant. If you think that you are pregnant and begin to experience any symptoms of an ectopic pregnant, seek medical attention immediately.