Can You Get Pregnant After a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is surgery to remove a female's uterus. Sometimes the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes are also removed. Because the uterus, or womb, is where a baby grows during pregnancy, a successful pregnancy after hysterectomy is not possible.

Whether for medical or personal reasons, hysterectomies are common. One in three women in the U.S. has one by age 60. The decision is not one people take lightly, as it, among its effects, permanently eliminates one's ability to have a child.

Ectopic Pregnancy After Hysterectomy

While having a hysterectomy generally means that someone is sterile and unable to conceive a child, in very rare cases someone who has had a hysterectomy will experience ovulation and subsequent fertilization via an abnormal situation known as an ectopic pregnancy.

Also known as a tubal pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, most often in a fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy is only possible if the hysterectomy leaves at least one fallopian tube and one ovary intact.

With an ectopic pregnancy, ovulation and fertilization may occur, but there is essentially no chance of a fetus surviving. Without a uterus to support the birth, it is next to impossible to carry to term.

Ectopic pregnancy can become life-threatening as the fetus continues to grow, stressing tissues not intended for pregnancy and eventually causing a major rupture and internal hemorrhage. The first sign is usually an excruciating abdominal pain.

After diagnosis, a doctor will typically prescribe medication (methotrexate) to eliminate the fetal cells. If that is ineffective, surgical removal of the pregnancy and repair of the fallopian tube may be done via laparoscopy. However, if there is an active rupture or the risk of one occurring, emergency surgery (laparotomy) may be needed.

Having a Child After Hysterectomy

If you want to have children but you need a hysterectomy for medical reasons, it is still possible to start a family.

One option is to have your eggs harvested for future fertilization and implantation in a surrogate. Harvesting can be done before the surgery if the ovaries are to be removed, or after if the ovaries are to remain intact. While a surrogate will carry the child, it will be your biological child.

You may also consider adopting a child if you do not want to undergo egg harvesting or use a surrogate.

A Word From Verywell

Pregnancy after a hysterectomy is extremely rare, but when it does happen it, is considered a life-threatening medical emergency. If you want to become pregnant, you will need to do so prior to having a hysterectomy, as it will no longer be possible to bear children after the surgery.

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