Young women are having difficulty accessing tubal ligation, despite it being a relatively safe (death rate is 1-2 per 100,000) and elective surgery.
There is a waiting period of 30 days for women seeking tubal ligation, yet no waiting period for men seeking vasectomies.
Young women are often discriminated against when seeking sterilization. Many doctors ask offensive questions (“What if you met a billionaire who wanted to have kids with you?”), state categorically that their patients are too young to consider the surgery, and generally act as though, as one woman who tried unsuccessfully to be sterilized at the age of 21 in the U.K. put it, ”just because I was a woman, I’d reach a point where an urge to breed would overcome all rational thought.” (Perhaps unsurprisingly, that woman’s 25-year-old husband faced no such presumptions when he asked his doctor for a vasectomy. The procedure was quickly approved.)
Say that at 18 I slap down enough money so I could have my whole body covered head-to-toe in tattoos, piercings all over myself, a mountain of cigarettes, plastic surgery, and plan to have like 20 babies… but if I try at all to safely make it impossible for me to breed for the sake of my health suddenly its like WOAH THERE SLOW DOWN MISSY YOU’RE NOT READY FOR THIS KIND OF COMMITMENT YET
I have stage III Endometriosis, which means I have to get my uterus removed because I literally have terrible cramps ALL THE TIME and not just when I’m on my period. Now, I’ve always said I don’t want any children for personal reasons and I don’t need my uterus, really. I am not worried about that surgery and I don’t feel any kind of nostalgia over an organ I won’t ever use.
The thing is, my doctor is a ‘man’. This ‘man’ told me I had to get pregnant right now before it’s too late. I told him I didn’t want to get pregnant and explained the multiple reasons but what, do you ask, did my doctor have to say about this? 'Well, better have a kid now because just imagine how depressing it must be being a thirty-something woman without children and a husband?'
I was diagnosed a year ago. I should have gone through surgery six months ago and I still can’t find a doctor that will perform the surgery without trying to force me to have children first. Basically, if you’re a woman you don’t have a say in what can and cannot be done to your body without a shitload of people getting in the way AND I’M FUCKING SICK OF IT.
Women are getting non-consensually sterilized in prison but no doctors in my area while tie my tubes at 24 because I might regret it? Fuck you, doctors. I have more purpose in life than dropping babies. Some of those women in prison are probably great moms and I have no interest in parenting. Let us have a say!
A dear friend of mine wanted to have her tubes tied. She was about to give birth to twins and the doctors wouldn’t consent because she wasn’t 21 yet. She had already had children and they still refused to let her have the procedure.
My friend got a vasectomy a week after asking his doctor for one, no problem. He was 25.
Me? I’ve asked 4 different doctors for some kind of permanent sterilisation—tubal ligation or Essure or whatever—and I get a pat on the head and a “You’d regret it if you did.”
Oh, DIDN’T REALIZE YOU HAD A DIRECT LINE TO MY BRAIN.
On the flip side, as a vagina-having person who had her tubes tied at the age of 26 (after having 4 children, however):
MY HUSBAND HAD TO SIGN A CONSENT FORM IN ORDER FOR ME TO HAVE THE PROCEDURE DONE.
How many times have we heard stories about husbands having vasectomies behind their wives backs and never telling them, letting those wives wallow in guilt and misery, thinking it’s their fault that they can’t get pregnant?
And yet I had had to get my husband’s permission to have my tubes tied.
(Obviously this was a decision we’d talked about extensively beforehand, so it’s not like he was about to say no, but we both couldn’t believe the fucking audacity of the hospital, asking HIS permission for ME to do something with MY body. In fact, he said as much to the nurse that brought in the forms.)
I am 36. I’m single, I don’t have kids and I don’t want kids.
I also had horrendous, frequent periods. When I went to the gynaecologist, she recommended that we try a Mirena. I let her know that I’d had menorrhagia on a previous form of low-dose, oestrogen-only birth control (implanon), and that I was apprehensive that it wouldn’t work.
She said “Well, after that you’re out of options.”
I was incredibly upset. I was willing to try, but what if it didn’t work? Was I literally condemned to a life where I’m bleeding and in pain more often than not and I just have to put up with it?
I rang my parents. My Mum listened to me and said “That doesn’t sound right” and put my Dad (who’s a doctor, and a qualified obstetrician/gynaecologist) on the phone.
Apparently I was not out of options and she shouldn’t have said I was. The next option is a surgical D & C to see if that fixed it, and if that didn’t work, an ablation, which would have left me permanently infertile. If that didn’t work, a hysterectomy (although Dad warned me that I should do what I could to avoid the hysterectomy, it comes with a horde of other side effects.)
I don’t know whether it was fear, I don’t know whether it’s because I was a public patient. I don’t know what it was. But the gynae was so scared of female infertility that she wouldn’t even give me information about treatment options. I had to ask my father.
(FYI, the Mirena worked and I had a shouting row with the gynaecologist where I accused her of having her objectivity and medical judgement biased by the religion of her employers.)
I’m so lucky that my doctor is almost “pushing” sterilization on me. He’s super supportive and knows that I’m done having kids, but still don’t have anything permanent planned.