Reversal of tubal sterilization versus IVF in the era of assisted reproductive technology: a clinical dilemma

Reprod Biomed Online. 2007 Oct;15(4):403-7. doi: 10.1016/s1472-6483(10)60365-3.


Two treatment options are available to women who wish to become pregnant after having had tubal sterilization: microsurgical reversal or IVF. The first approach is designed to restore tubal function, whereas the second replaces it. The first, to be successful, requires the presence of sufficient tubal length and normal or treatable fertility parameters. Treatment should therefore be individualized, based upon the findings of the couple's investigation, their wishes and the costs involved. The age of the female is the most important factor that affects the outcome with both treatment options. The live birth rate per cycle with IVF is 28%, but only 65.8% are singletons; 31.0% are twins and 3.2% triplets or more. Microsurgical tubal anastomosis yields a birth rate that exceeds 55%, without increased risk of multiple pregnancy. It offers the couple multiple cycles in which to achieve conception naturally, and the opportunity to have more than one pregnancy from a single intervention. The real dilemma lies with the 'industrialization' of IVF, and its frequent use as primary treatment for infertility. The dilemma is heightened by the fact that reconstructive tubal microsurgery is being taught and practised less and less, thereby eliminating this credible surgical option in most centres.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anastomosis, Surgical
  • Birth Rate
  • Fallopian Tubes / surgery*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro*
  • Humans
  • Microsurgery
  • Sterilization, Tubal*