In the summer of 2013, my fifth and final child was brought into the world by emergency cesarean section at 34 weeks gestation due to preterm labor and breech positioning. I had signed a consent form to undergo a tubal ligation with my primary prenatal care provider weeks prior, and signed a new one that day on account of I had to have my care transferred to a hospital equipped for a preemie. So, I literally signed off on having this procedure done two times. I felt very sure. I was exhausted, I was stressed, I was spent, and what I knew of the procedure was that it was a simple and easy method of avoiding pregnancy that wouldn't riddle me with frustrating side effects like every temporary method I'd tried had in the past.
My primary prenatal care doctor asked me during at least four visits if I felt sure. I laughed every time, reminded her that I was on my 5th kid in 5 years, and she would rattle off the statistics of regret in women as young as myself who undergo tubal ligation. I wasn't going to be shaken by regret. I wasn't at all. It didn't deter me in the slightest.
Around the 1 month postpartum mark, my cycle returned. Things were "off", it was heavy, but I didn't think anything of it since it was my first period. I was also distracted with trying to produce enough milk for my baby, as I was struggling harder this time than ever before. Pumping constantly and being on domperidone and every supplement known to woman, I was barely lactating. It was causing me a lot of frustration. I would later find I was not alone in this struggle after having a tubal ligation.
My husband has been by my side but helpless as my body has begun to shift over time from that of a healthy 24 year old woman to a pained and worn out woman who feels much older and more dilapidated than 24. Daily ovarian pain that impacts my day to day quality of life, congestion in the remaining blood vessel to each ovary detected by ultrasound, dysfunctional mid cycle uterine bleeds, more exaggerated postpartum hair loss than during previous postpartum experiences, menstrual cycles that knock me off my feet, sudden weight struggles, crushing constant fatigue somehow magically coupled with intense insomnia. And since it's always asked, I will go ahead and specify; These are all things I was not experiencing prior to tubal ligation. These are not things that are normal for any woman, let alone a woman as young as myself.
Months of various exams, procedures, blood tests, biopsies and everything the OBGYN can think of have shown no other cause. I came to the end of the road with my doctor, and am now left to figure out what to do on my own. He does not acknowledge the idea that any of this can be caused by a tubal ligation. He says, "it could simply be aging". I point out to him I'm only freshly 24. He had nothing more to say.
I've connected with women through a few different places who have shown me I'm not alone. They experience the same symptoms as me, and some of them are even worse. And very rarely do their care providers acknowledge what seems too strong of a link to simply be coincidental.
If I had looked online before I agreed to the procedure, I likely would have easily found information, though very scattered, that may have impacted my decision. Instead, I verbally confirmed continually, and signed off on it twice. I was never told there was a possibility of side effects... because these doctors don't believe they exist.
My goal for this blog is to collect our stories. I want to create a central hub for those of us going through what is now labeled Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome (PTLS) to share our experiences, to speak up and be the collective red flag for women considering this option of contraception.
My disclaimers to anyone reading are this:
-We are not doctors, and don't claim to be. We are women, living in our bodies and experiencing distinct issues after a very common sterilization procedure. We are here telling you OUR experiences.
-Not every woman with PTLS will exhibit the same symptoms, and not every woman who gets her tubes tied will develop PTLS. It's the same as any other birth control method, there are risks, but typically a doctor will not tell you these risks beforehand, and the cost to fix these issues is immense. It's not as simple as stopping the pill or having the IUD removed.
If you have a story, please email it to me. I want to make this idea I have work, but I cannot do it without you. Send your story to me at email@example.com, and please include this questionnaire in your email:
Name or initials:
Year of tubal ligation procedure:
Your most prominent symptoms that were not present prior to tubal ligation:
Your help with this blog is appreciated, and together we can make a difference in women who don't fully realize what they're signing off on.