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Author Topic: Sterilization
Green iPod
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I don't know if many people on here have had experience with this but I'd like to discuss sterilization. Mostly the denial to women who are not a certain age or have children already. I have heard from other women of varying ages and experienced this myself. I am 20. I told my gyno at 15 that I wanted to be sterilized. He told me he would when I was 25. He retired this year though. I know that it seems surprising to many people with my young age and that I have no children (and intend to keep it that way hence seeking sterilization), I understand the surpise, I do. What I don't really get, or care for is people (especially doctors) complete dismissal of what I want for my body. So many of them seem to believe ALL women want children at some point. Along with that belief is that women under 30-35 cannot possible know what they want in their lives. Some docs even deny women above thirty if they do not have children. I feel its sexist and ageist and that they shouldn't make assumptions like that regardless of whether they have good intentions. My own experiences with this other than my first gyno have been negative. I've had a nurse laugh at me and many shocked disbelieving looks.
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Saffron Raymie
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I wonder if they'd give someone with testes a permanent sterilization at 20?
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Green iPod
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I've heard its much easier and they don't ask as many questions
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Heather
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That's actually never been my impression at all. A lot of screening with sterilization is something I understand to happen regardless of gender. However, it can be a little more so for people with a uterus because that procedure is just much more easily reversible.

But even just from personal anecdote, my partner was 43 when he chose to get snipped. I was there with him for all parts of the process, and BOTH of us were asked many, many questions by the doctor before a procedure was okayed.

One issue with you that would be pretty impossible to get past, no matter how a doctor felt, is that you were asking for elective surgery as a minor. That is a fast route to malpractice for doctors. So, there's that.

Mind, I agree with you about a lot of what you have said here, and there certainly are a lot of assumptions being made and a lot of projection about the import of reproducing being something people are "supposed to" have. And by all means, your interest in this not being taken seriously was poor practice on everyone's part, big time.

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Jill2000Plus
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Seriously? I'm not that surprised though, that they'd be more willing to sterilize someone who's not actually capable of getting pregnant and is therefore not going to suffer as much if an unintended pregnancy occurs through sex that they have (or through rape that they inflict on someone), I'm not surprised by this because society is so messed up that I'm more surprised when something good happens. I think the worst thing about it is that it shows you more and more that the people who claim to want to save teh baybeez have as their actual goal forcing all women to have children, I bet you'd find that most "pro-lifers" oppose women choosing to get sterilised (and that's certainly the impression I've gotten from what I've heard/read of their views), because it's not about caring about children, it's about wanting to ensure that no woman ever gets to have sex without being punished for it, I'm aware that sterilisation can fail in rare instances, but it's more effective than any other method of contraception, yet if you're capable of becoming pregnant it's virtually impossible to get sterilised even if you know you want to because of how much misogyny there is in the world. I want to get sterilised myself, but I'm really worried that it would be impossible to get any doctor to perform the procedure as I'm 22 years old, have no children and have a uterus.

And of course, there are also people who blame women who don't want to get sterilised because they aren't sure that they don't want to have kids ever, but who don't want to have kids now and intend to have an abortion if they get pregnant before they're ready to have kids.

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Heather
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Just FYI? Most doctors who do vasectomies, to my knowledge, specialize almost solely in doing just that. They also don't usually do both vasectomies and tubals because they are very different surgeries and practices.

I just think it's quite a leap to talk about providers for the two in terms of assumptions about their feelings per reproductive rights. And again, a vasectomy is a much less invasive surgery than a tubal, carries less risks, and is easier to reverse.

I totally hear people -- and have talked about these issues myself, personally and professionally -- in frustrations and possible, likely or actual sexism around women getting sterilized. However, I think it's important not to obfuscate these discussions with ideas or presumptions which either are not factual, aren't about that, or aren't about, or entirely about, what they may appear to be.

To boot, it is not virtually impossible to get a tubal, either, including when you are in your twenties and nulliparous. I think we need to be REALLY careful with those statements because then people who want that won't even ask about it, assuming that's true. One doctor refusing someone as a teen, or refusing one person in their twenties, should not be presumed to represent the whole picture here.

According to the CDC, in the US alone per married women aged 15-44, between 1965 and 1988, the prevalence of surgical sterilization rose from 16 to 42 percent, and has stayed at around that level since. That's not "virtually impossible." That's a LOT of people.

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Captain Girl
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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:


According to the CDC, in the US alone per married women aged 15-44, between 1965 and 1988, the prevalence of surgical sterilization rose from 16 to 42 percent, and has stayed at around that level since. That's not "virtually impossible." That's a LOT of people.

I just want to point out that it's also a really big age range and very old data. Your stat can be true (as of twenty-three years ago), and it can *still* be very difficult for young women to obtain surgical sterilization.
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Heather
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Not suggesting at all it isn't difficult for young women to find doctors willing to do sterilization. I've counseled/helped plenty myself in finding providers and in standing their ground about what they want.

As well, as I've made clear, we remain at around 40% of (married) women having had sterilizations, according to the CDC.

But I want to be sure discussions we have about this don't obscure facts or oversimplify for a handful of reasons, including that doing so can send the message to women who want these procedures that they shouldn't even bother asking about them.

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NoName
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I am in the same boat with wanting to be sterilized. I am 23 years old and have been, am, and will always be 100 percent positive that I do not want children. If lightning stuck me and warped my brain into wanting one one day, I would STILL never want to birth one myself, I would adopt. I don't know much about your history but I can tell you that I have a list of reasons a mile long why children are not a good idea for me and why carrying a child in my body would be harder than it would be for the average woman. Heather can tell you that I have been posting the past couple of months really suffering mentally because I literally can not stand the thoughts of being fertile. I have irrational pregnancy scares all the time, and mind you I don't even have intercourse. I have a very long term relationship that I feel can never move forward sexually because I don't see myself ever being able to trust any birth control to have intercourse. And yes, the small failure rate in sterilization does frighten me but however, you don't hear about it nearly as much as you do with other birth control. There are thousands of stories of pill, shot, and condom failure. From what I hear, when you take anything hormonally, some women just do not respond to it and ovulate anyway. You don't find out that you are one of those woman until you in fact get pregnant. That is not a risk I ever ever want to take.

I have spent years completely tormented by this, no kidding. I have even been in therapy for quite sometime and it has helped with some of my irrational thinking but overall, the overall fear of pregnancy/not wanting it still prevails because at the bottom of my being, I absolutely do not want it to happen to me. I plan to start some dialogue with my gynecologist when I got to my appt. next month but I already know the opposition I will face from him. I wish that I could find a way to get them to understand how much better my life would be if I could have this procedure. I think that most people just don't "get it" when you say you really don't want to be a parent. I agree, it is a very natural role to take on BUT that does NOT mean it is 100 percent right for everyone. That should be blatantly obvious with all the child abuse and neglect that goes on. I would think that doctors would be beside themselves in happiness that there are woman out there smart enough to know that they do not want children and do not want to gamble with something so serious. But, somehow, it has worked against us, not with us. I find it appalling that you can go get an abortion (which I am very glad we have the rights to get one) and you can also give birth, at any age seemingly...BUT a grown adult can not have the right to prevent both of those things in the first place. I know that sterilization has its risks, but how in the world can the risks be any worse than passing a baby through your body (which could even kill you) or having an abortion? It all makes me so angry. It's great that doctor's are cautious about it but there has to be a point where they let you be accountable for your own choices. If a woman gets sterilized and then regrets it, guess what? That is her problem, not the doctor's.

I posted on the birth control board about the Essure procedure and have not gotten any replies. Do any of you know anything about the procedure?

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Heather
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Just a note of advice to anyone in this boat: call around to OB/GYNs who do sterilizations. Seriously, just sit with a phone list for the day, and make a bunch of calls. Do NOT rely on any one OB/GYN, or waste your time trying to argue your way into a procedure they clearly don't want to do.

Another tip? Call feminist health clinics or abortion clinics and ask them for suggestions of who to call. They're usually more connected with providers who are repro-rights minded about this.

Providers really are not monolithic, and while it can be easy to assume that because one provider has a given opinion, most or all will, it just isn't that way. For instance, I can think of a handful of providers just in the state I work in who I know would support younger women (again, minors are a different story, and that's more legal issues than anything else) in sterilizations the same way they support older ones.

quote:
If a woman gets sterilized and then regrets it, guess what? That is her problem, not the doctor's.
In essence, I agree with this. However, legally, the doctor sometimes isn't quite that protected, so we can't really say that. I'm all about everyone having every reproductive right possible, including this one, but I also think we need to bear in mind that some doctors may, in some cases, be potentially choosing between giving one woman a sterilization and the potential loss of their ability to practice or their income, and that's not minor.

(Just to make sure other facts don't get obscured here, legal, surgical abortion, especially in the first trimester, is a very safe procedure that DOES pose far less risks than birth, and also poses less risk than sterilizations. Once you get into the second trimester, my sense is it's more like a similar level of risk. I don't think we need to go to these places that aren't factual to support the right everyone should have to choose these methods of contraception if they want them.)

[ 08-31-2011, 11:33 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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NoName
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Thanks for the info Heather. I understand that there may be legal implications but I don't see how a doctor can be held liable for doing a procedure that an adult legally consented to in right mind and body. That just doesn't make any sense. It is the same as getting any other surgery that isn't necessary to stay alive (ie plastic surgery), people may not "need" it but they chose to have it done. It seems like you shouldn't be able to sue a doctor for something you consented to doing. Also, I am not an abortion expert but I was just assuming that it at least carries some risk when you have one, no matter how early you get it. I am sure there are plenty of women who aren't able to get an abortion in that first trimester as well. My whole point being is that I have heard many arguments that one reason that childless women are sterilized is because it isn't worth the risk of surgery as it is a lot easier to sterilize someone postpartum. My response to that is giving birth and having an abortion also puts you at a risk so that argument really isn't valid. I personally would like to do anything I can to not put myself at any risk and even I have concerns about tubals. I am strongly considering have the implant procedure instead of the tubal so that I can bypass being put to sleep. Regardless, I don't ever want to give birth or have an abortion, and tons of woman don't want to either which is why so many of us are seeking out sterilization so young so that we can protect ourselves in the best way we can to not be put in that situation. It just doesn't make sense for me to be on birth control for 30 plus years when I know for sure that I never want kids. Maybe some women are okay with that but I personally am not.
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Green iPod
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I completely understand about when I was a minor but I'm not anymore and I haven't even seen that doc the last two times. I'm going to get a list of docs that take my insurance (which covers voluntary sterilization ironically) and call them until I find one who will at least make a consultation appointment with me. I know not all docs are the same. I hang around on forums with a lot of women who want to be sterilized who live all over the country and in others and they all keep running into these doctors that just say no.
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Heather
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Believe me, y'all, I hear you on this. I more than understand, likely more than you realize, what a big deal it can be to avoid becoming pregnant.

But I just want to make sure we're not going to a place with this that isn't realistic. FOR SURE, some doctors refuse because of bias with age.

However. The guidelines for sterilization (and by all means, there are politics to some degree with that) usually suggest those over 25-30. As well, docs keep stats on this, and there are groups who more frequently want reversals or report wishing they could have them, and younger women is the biggie. When you combine those two things lone with a litigious society (and the Hippocratic oath, so docs do have to consider what they feel is best for a patient, too), what you get are some docs being at big risks with this. A younger woman could sue, for instance, saying she was too young to understand what she was consenting to. Given the guidelines with age, that would not be a tough one to win. And yes, there are some questions to be had about the legal ethics of the person suing, but in the meantime, doctors and clinics do have to think about what they need to do to keep the ability to practice.

Remember, doctors, like most people with jobs, do like to get paid. They're rarely going to nix a surgery that pays them well just because. And as usual, we really need to be careful when we're reading anecdotal stories on the net. For sure, some people are totally being truthful, but a lot of the time, you also get some half-information or misinformation.

Again, no one here needs to defend what I feel should be their right to contracept as they choose and to prevent pregnancies and births. I'm about as far left as it gets with those things. But I'm also aware that resistance with this on the part of some doctors isn't just sexism or ageism, and I like us to keep things real around here.

Again, though, before anyone leaps to the idea this isn't something they can have done, do call around, which is something I am aware plenty of people don't do. As usual, too, if you want help finding services you need local to you, including this, we are always glad to help you look.

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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I'm sorry if I said anything inflammatory Heather, it's just I'm terrified of getting pregnant and know I never want to and am sick of people (not you) handwaving that with "but you might change your mind... and did I mention that I think that women who have abortions in x circumstance are dirty sluts and I support parents who deny their children sex education on the basis of y?" I cannot imagine ever wanting to give birth, but I'm aware that I may not be able to be certain that I'll never change my mind, and I still want to get sterilised, if I regret it later, then it will still have been my choice.

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Heather
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Like I said, I think you know I hear you (especially as someone, remember, who has chosen not to reproduce for a bunch of reasons, and heard a lot of those same things, even from people who knew that in my case, saying them involves a really gross insensitivity about my life).

But I also think it's really important we don't assign things to healthcare providers out of hand who could very well provide you with a sterilization procedure if you wanted one, or give people the impression not only are those procedures in no way available to them, but when they're not it's always about bias.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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I agree.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Green iPod
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I know this thread it old but I wanted to update it. This year I got a new gyno. At my first appointment I discussed sterilization with her. She said yes. She didn't ask me a lot of hypothetical questions or dismiss my desire for it or not take it seriously as several other health 'professionals' did. It was actually a very positive experience. She went through the counseling with me, about how a tubal is permanent, my age is a factor, alternatives, what I'd have to do it I changed my mind later and wanted kids. Now we are just waiting on my insurance company to find out how much it will cost and we will be making the appointment to have it done.
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WesLuck
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I've only just read this thread, and it raises a lot of interesting points. With regards to you, Green iPod, I hope that the surgery goes well and that you never have to worry again about getting pregnant. [Smile]
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Saffron Raymie
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Welcome back, Green Ipod, and I'm glad you've found what you were searching for. What a lovely and respectful gyn. [Smile]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Heather
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Wahoo! [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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