After I got my tubes tied last year, I got a lot of questions from friends (and strangers) about what a tubal ligation actually means. It's not a common procedure for a young (under 30), relatively healthy childfree woman to have, and most of my friends (parents and non-parents) rely on other forms of birth control, permanent or otherwise. I realize that a lot of Bitch readers know a lot about their bodies and reproductive health, but in the interest of clearing up some misconceptions about tubal ligations specifically (I'll get to other permanent birth control like Essure later this week), here are a few of the questions I've fielded and how I generally answer them.
Please note: I'm not a doctor or health care professional, and I'm answering these questions based on personal experience.
Do you still have your period?
Sure do! As I type, I'm surfing the crimson wave. Since I still have all of my reproductive organs (every organ I was born with too, lucky me!), there's no chance of kicking Aunt Flo to the curb any time soon. I should note that I did abruptly skip my period the first month after my surgery, but I chalked that up to post-surgery stress and my body readjusting to its natural cycle after a lifetime of birth control pills.
Do you still have your uterus?
See above. I still have all of my major reproductive organs. They all still operate in their respective ways, save my fallopian tubes, which have little clasps keeping them closed.
Did you have a major, complicated, invasive surgery?
Like any surgery, a tubal ligation can get complicated. I was lucky that mine did not. Mine was performed with lasers, and I only have two small scars from the operation, one in my navel that's impossible to see, and one on the lower left side of my abdomen above my pubic hair. I was put under general anesthesia, but I was fortunate that I didn't experience any side effects as a result. After surgery, I was in quite a bit of pain and spent about two days in the house recovering. My stitches came out ten days later, and even though a few were infected, I was able to ride my bicycle within three weeks of surgery. I probably could have sooner but I'm admittedly a bit of a wuss when it comes to pain.
Lots of women have tubal ligations after having a baby or two (or more!). Does my experience sound similar to yours, or to the experience friends have described? Since I'm the only intentionally sterile woman I know, I'd love to hear from women across the spectrum who have had their tubes tied or are considering it.