I have for years known that I don’t want kids. I have for years whined, moaned, complained, and griped about the injustice of the medical industry, denying the agency of women who want sterilization under the pretense of “oh, you’ll change your mind.” Only for women under a certain age. Because it’s for their own good. Because, y’know, they’ll regret it. And thus, I have for years gone to many a doctor, asked about tubal ligation, and been laughed at (literally), patted on the head (metaphorically), and told that I don’t know what I’m talking about (literally).
Then this magical thing happened. I hit 30. I went to see the doctor yesterday. And I discovered that all the resistance had melted away. 30 is apparently that special the age when women become adults.
The doctor didn’t ask me about why I wanted to be sterile. He didn’t ask if I had a boyfriend or a husband, or what I would do if I changed my mind. He just assumed I knew my mind. This was novel.
I’d say that maybe this isn’t so much a case of age-based discrimination, that maybe I’d just found the right doctor, except… he had that cringing look on his face when he thought I was in my 20s. Except I brought up that I had wanted the procedure for 10 years, and he replied that the resistance was likely because there is such a high rate of patient regret. Except on my way out he made a comment, a joke, about me being 30 meant I was a grown-up now.
Now I’ve done my research. Regret? I’ve seen widely varying numbers, but even the highest (see the section on “Long-Term Complications”) have it only at about 1/4 of patients expressing regret, with the average being closer to 1/10, controlling for all factors.
And the adulthood joke? Harder to interpret. I have to admit, it was well-placed, as jokes go. I’d like to look at it as a comment on how our society views younger folk as kids. In a lot of ways, American culture doesn’t let people grow up until our 30s, anyway. 25? You’re still just a kid. A kid who can legally enter contracts, mind you, but a kid all the same.
I know that when I was 25, I knew my birth control options. I knew oral contraceptives worked my system over in the worst way, and that doctors wouldn’t put an IUD in for me. I knew that Depo Provera was scary being yet another hormonal birth control, and one I wouldn’t be able to discontinue if I had the same problems that presented themselves while taking oral contraceptives. And then there was the fact that no one would believe: that I knew I didn’t ever want kids.
Well, I am finally getting my way. By my next post, I will be well on my way to having occluded fallopian tubes, scar tissue forming blockages due to feathery little inserts in tiny cages in what look like coiled metal springs. Yay, Essure! Yay, technology!
But it feels like a pyrrhic victory. I still had to wait. And wait. All those pregnancy scares, all those horrid hormones placed in my body to finally get to this point. It doesn’t seem fair, especially not when I knew what the outcome would be 10 years ago. I was sure then, too.