Approximately 10 million women in the United States have had tubal ligation, commonly known as having their tubes tied-- as a permanent form of birth control since the 1960s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. This makes it the second most popular method of birth control aside from oral contraceptives, according to the CDC.
More and more people are asking the question, should tubal ligation be as commonplace as children in the past had their tonsils taken out? Just as the trends for routine tonsillectomy started to decline, a closer look at the procedure of tube tying should be considered. Here are seven reasons to have a second look at the decision to have your tubes tied.
It is sterilization
Sterilizing yourself is a drastic decision to make. During sterilization, a health care provider closes or blocks a woman's fallopian tubes. Closing the tubes can be done in several ways, but all involve invoking permanent damage to a woman’s working organs, with the goal being irreversible damage. One way is by tying and cutting the tubes — this is called tubal ligation. The fallopian tubes also can be burned or sealed using an instrument with an electrical current. They also can be closed with clips, clamps, or rings. Sometimes, a small piece of the tube is removed. There can also be tiny inserts put in the tubes. Tissue grows around them and blocks the tubes. All ways are designed to sterilize, making viable pregnancy impossible.
It is permanent
Contrary to what some doctors may tell you, surgically tying your tubes is a permanent decision. Attempting reversals are not only expensive, but they are not always successful. Even though tubes can sometimes be rejoined, there are no guarantees. For many women, reversals are not possible because there are not enough of their tubes left to reconnect. The damage doctors are providing is intended to be everlasting. If you change your mind, or if the side effects prove too difficult, you can’t go back.
Someone other than you wants you to
Tubal ligation is a permanent procedure and should be done only when a woman is ready and no longer wants to have children. Sometimes women opt to have this procedure done because their partner wants them to or because they have pressure from someone else to have the procedure. Remember this is your body and you will have to live with your choices, so make sure that you are the one that wants to have your tubes tied. If you're not ready, there are alternatives that give you long-term birth control like the Mirena IUD or even the Depo-Provera shot which is given once every three months.
Ectopic pregnancy or Reconnected Tubes
Ectopic pregnancy after tubal sterilization is not rare, according to the CDC, particularly among women sterilized before age 30. Ectopic pregnancy is when a pregnancy develops in a fallopian tube. It is serious and life threatening and can occur long after sterilization. This non-rare side effect will end the life of the baby while threatening the life of the mother. And it can happen repeatedly. Along with ectopic pregnancy, there is also the rare risk that your tubes could reconnect and allow for uterine pregnancy to occur. Reconnection of tubes is rare, but there have been documented cases of it. In summary, even in sterilization, there are no guarantees, and the risks are serious.
You can’t predict the future
This is a main reason from which many others reasons flow. No matter what your reasons, circumstances, or opinions are today, no matter how determined you are or made-up you feel your mind is, you just never know what the future will hold. Accidents, conflicts, unplanned and unforeseen events can all change who you are or what you want out of life. Today, you may feel confident that you don’t want any children, or more children. There are plenty of other ways to prevent or avoid pregnancy rather than permanent sterilization. The “what-if” factors may not be something you like considering, but there are any number of circumstances that could change how you feel later. If you don’t get your tubes tied, no one is forcing you to have more children. If you do, and life changes your decision, that’s a regret that will be difficult to cope with.
From mild to serious, there are many medical aspects to getting your tubes tied that many women don’t realize ahead of time. It can create a hormonal imbalance. While some medical professions deny the existence of post tubal syndrome, it is a condition with a range of symptoms affecting some women after having their tubes tied, including hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety, heavier periods, vaginal dryness and fatigue. Occurrences for cysts are also reported. More serious and rare complications could also include the destruction of your fimbrias, or loss of an ovary.
STDs are still contractible
Keep in mind that sterilization provides no protection against sexually transmitted diseases. So even though it may be a surgically destructive way to prevent healthy viable pregnancies, it still does nothing to protect you from AIDS or other sexual diseases. The appeal for some women in getting their tubes tied is to avoid oral birth control and/or use of condoms. This doesn’t prevent the spread of disease contracted sexually, both common and uncommon. Condoms can reduce your risk of STDs, however, there is nothing one hundred percent effective aside from abstinence in this area.
Speak to your doctor about any risks or concerns you have about tubal ligation. Sterilization is not always a simple choice for moms. Make sure you talk things over with your partner and your doctor before you make any decisions.