They say tubal ligation or getting you tubes tied is the most common contraceptive method used by women world wide. Of every 7 women using a family planning method, 2 will have had their tied. I joined this group of women during 2019 and it was one of the most frustrating and emotionally charged experiences of my life!
1. No through road:
The most striking thing for me was just how hard it is to get one, in Africa at least. Doctors are very hostile to women who opt out of having children. Factual information is hard to find and doctors will act as though the decision is not yours to make.
Pregnancy and child birth have for me always been a super hard, complicated and often debilitating experience. After baby number two I asked the doctor to make it stop by cutting my tubes. He told me he never does that for women under a certain age and that was that. Conversation closed.
There was simply no room in that conversation for my own agency. No acknowledgement that as an adult woman I could make an informed decision about my own body which my doctor that I was paying needed to honour. It wasn’t up for discussion until the gynae decided years later that my health was at stake if he didn’t perform one.
2. Veil of secrecy:
Another thing that will shock you about tubal ligation is just how much silence surrounds the topic. When I got told I was getting one, anxiety struck me. I didn’t know what to expect so I started asking around for women who had gone through this.
Few responded publicly to my posts on social media though I had a flood of inboxes. Women not wanting to be known as having closed their womb to the business of baby making. They came into my inbox, they called me on the phone, they approached me face to face.
Though clearly uncomfortable with being known for it they affirmed me in private. They lovingly shared their stories and feelings with me. They opened up their herstories, bless them.
Many had had to talk their husbands into signing consent because back then it wasn’t even considered that a woman could do this without a man’s consent. Some had chosen this though they had never had kids at all.
They said it would be okay. They made me feel it was all going to be okay. And it was. I couldn’t have coped without this invisible sisterhood that held me up.
3. Uncomfortable silence:
The process is for the most part medical. It’s in and out of theatre, and if you have no funny reaction off you go. The lack of counseling stuck me as odd because it’s something I felt that I really needed. The health professionals are all about this body that can no longer give life, no attention paid at all to you feelings.
Thing is you will likely go through a wide range of emotions once it’s done. Having no one to talk to about these sucks. Family, means well but for the most part will also tip toe around your feelings. Most likely for fear of not knowing what to say.
I would recommend getting a professional counselor to walk the journey with you or otherwise the feelings will sit with you longer than they need to. They can weigh heavy.
4. No more pregnancy anxiety:
Then there is life outside of your potential to give life to another. Some women told me about feeling depressed by not being able to have babies if they want. It’s definitely heart breaking being in that space especially if one doesn’t have kids already. Many women, however, seem to enjoy not having to worry about falling pregnant. Their sex lives are tons better, they feel freer and sexier. I hope you fall into this later club
All in all it is not as horrid an experience as the over cautious doctors make it out to be. With the right kind of information and support it should be a viable mode of birth control for adult women whose minds are made up.