Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive type of surgery that is often used to investigate or treat fertility issues, though it is also used for other common types of abdominal or pelvic surgery such as an appendectomy, gallbladder removal, or gastric band placement. Because it is so common, and because of its use in reproductive medicine, patients often have questions about how this kind of surgery might affect their chances of getting pregnant. While it’s true that every case is unique, the good news is that it is quite rare for laparoscopic surgery to adversely affect a woman’s fertility. In many cases, it may actually improve the odds of conception. Here’s everything you need to know about having a baby after a laparoscopy.
For some women, who have undergone a laparoscopy to remove fibroids or endometriotic lesions, repair a hydrosalpinx, unblock a fallopian tube, or reverse a tubal ligation, the surgery actually increases the chances of getting pregnant. However, there are some cases where laparoscopy may affect your ability to conceive.
- Recovery time: If you are trying to conceive naturally, undergoing a laparoscopy can disrupt your conception timeline as you may need a few weeks to recover after the surgery. A small amount of pain and bloating is usual in the days following the procedure, and you will need to give your body time to rest and heal. Generally, doctors recommend that you wait until your incision is fully healed before resuming intercourse (as well as other physical activities such as exercise) which may take anywhere from 3-5 days to several weeks. Listen to your body: get lots of rest and good nutrition, take care of your incision site, and if you experience pain during intercourse, stop and give yourself a few more days. If pain continues to be an issue for you, speak to your doctor.
- Scarring: Any time a woman undergoes pelvic or abdominal surgery of any kind, there is some risk of scarring and adhesions inside the pelvic cavity, though this is less likely with laparoscopy than with other types of surgery with larger incisions such as open procedures. In some cases, the resulting scar tissue may cause difficulty conceiving, for example, if a fallopian tube is damaged. During laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon’s visibility and range of motion are limited, and because they are using tools and a camera instead of their hands, it can be challenging to judge how much force is necessary. This means that the skill and training of your surgeon is extremely important to minimize any adverse side effects, such as internal scarring.
If you have already had a laparoscopic procedure or are expecting to need one, don’t worry too much about it affecting your chances of getting pregnant: this is a rare complication. However, if you are already worried that your history of laparoscopic surgery could be making it harder to conceive, don’t suffer the stress in silence. Talk to your doctor or contact a fertility clinic and let them help you discover what’s going on and talk you through your options.