I have PCOS, and I am childfree by choice.
On the 26th of this month, at the age of 27 (almost 28) I finally managed to get a tubal ligation!
I also, at the recommendation of my gynecologist, got my ovaries drilled. Most of the info I see is about treating infertility, but he said it helps with PCOS symptoms as well. Here's hoping, since the metformin made me all kinds of crazy. :/
Has anyone here tried ovarian drilling? Did it help any? What sort of side effects did you suffer?
I've been in a lot of pain and really nauseous since the procedure. It has only been a couple of days though, so I'm not concerned yet. It's nothing compared to the back surgery I had in Feb.
I knew I wanted to get my tubes tied when I was thirteen years old. I have so very many reasons- bad genes, a complete lack of desire for babies, concern for overpopulation, a body that isn't well enough to support pregnancy, etc etc etc.
The first I heard about PCOS was when I was 21 or so. I heard about it from another woman- my health issues were blamed on weight by most doctors I had seen, even though my symptoms were just as bad when I weighted 117 pounds as a teenager.
It was also around this time that I started trying to get a tubal ligation, since I figured I was of an age to have the right to do so.
Imagine my shock when I discovered how few people in the medical community think of women as truly sentient beings capable of independent thought!
"You need to have your husband sign a permission slip." (UNTRUE, by the way.) "Oh, you aren't married? Well you have to wait until you are. What if your husband wants babies?" (Uh, I wouldn't marry someone who wanted babies. I would marry someone who would be happy with a childfree marriage and who respected my wishes.)
"You need to get a psychiatric evaluation before you can get your tubes tied." (ALSO untrue, there's no law saying you have to do this. And uh, a violent paranoid delusional meth addict can have a baby, but I have to be deemed sane in order to NOT have a baby? BUH?)
"Every woman wants babies when they are thirty-five. If you don't want babies, you need to get on anti-depressants." (#1. untrue and #2. not wanting to breed is a mental illness now?)
"You have to have at least two babies before you can have a tubal ligation." (Nope, still not true.)
"You have to be at least 35 before you can have a tubal ligation."
These are just some of the things doctors, clinicians, nurses, ob-gyns, and Planned Parenthood employees said to me. When I first started trying to get my tubes tied in '00, PP still had state funding for tubal ligations. The problem was that no one would do it! I called every single clinic in California and a couple in Arizona. The only clinic that would even see me after I gave them my age and childfree status was Planned Parenthood Fairfax. The conselor was dead set against it when I walked in the door. An hour later she was convinced, but told me I needed to see a psychiatrist about my lack of desire to have kids anyway. The doctor who performed the procedure, however, refused to even speak to me because I had no children and was only 21.
The next time I tried, I had health insurance, and it covered tubal ligations! I had to get a referral for the tubal, and my doctor referred me to a one Dr. Shapiro of Daly City. I knew I was in trouble when I walked in the door and saw that she had those photos of babies in bee suits surrounded by flower petals on her walls. Still, my doctor had referred me to her, so I figured I would try.
She was the one who told me flat out that she wouldn't because I didn't have kids, and that I needed to go on anti-depressants. I found out later that she was Catholic. Heh. Pretty much kills the chances of sterilization right there.
My next search was private clinics. I was out of insurance at this point, and they were all charging at least $7,000. I found out that there were clinics in the UK that did it for about $700. I considered flying to England to get it done, but I couldn't get enough information and didn't want to end up being denied because of my lack of UK citizenship. I couldn't really afford it anyway. :<
the second time I went to a doctor about my PCOS, the doctor, a GP, confessed that she didn't know much about it. I gave her the basics, and she insisted that I get tested for it again. I was sent a letter telling me that I had it- which I already knew, since I'd been tested before- and a pamphlet- "What is menstruation?" Uh gee, thanks? That uh, that is really useful. Yeah.
My next round of planned parenthood clinic calls, at age 25 or 26, led me to discover that funding for female sterilization had been completely cut. Men can still get vasectomies quite easily, but women can no longer get them through PP. Additionally, if you DO get a tubal, you no longer have access to planned parenthood services, especially anything involving government funding. I don't know if this is the case for Planned Parenthoods outside of California.
I got a gynecologist who was pretty good- Angelina Thomas of the Oakland. Berkeley area, if anyone's interested. She put me on glucophange, which is some generic version of metformin, but it made me go just nuts. I could barely ever sleep. I'm pretty sure I rarely, if ever, had REM cycles. I never remembered dreaming. I got all kinds of crazy and sick like I did on birth control pills. I've been told that these aren't on the list of possible side effects and thus cannot be possible. Huh. I'm an impossible being I guess. :p Anyway, I stopped taking it after a couple of months.
Finally in late '06 I got insurance again! First I had to have some major back surgery to take care of a severely herniated disc that an idiot doctor had claimed was just irritation from my weight. He refused to refer me for an MRI until I could no longer walk and had to crawl into his office and yell at him. :p Oh yeah, my PCOS has also been blamed on my weight, never mind the fact that I eat less than most people and before my back injury got bad I also worked out more than most people. :p
Anyway, once I got a doctor who was willing to listen to me and a surgeon who could look at my MRI plates, I got the surgery and then had to spend some time healing.
Finally, a few months ago I set about searching for a gynecologist who would be willing to give a tubal ligation to a childfree 27 year old. One would think this would be easy in a liberal area like the San Francisco bay area, but it's not. Finally, Dr. Kunhardt of San Pablo said he was willing to at least discuss the possibility with me.
It took a lot of discussion. I had to tell him that no, I really didn't want an IUD- hormones added to the body of a woman with PCOS can have pretty nasty effects, and a copper IUD isn't reccommended for someone who has severe menstrual cramps. I wanted a permanent solution demmitt, not some foreign object jammed into me so that my uterus would become inflamed.
Anyway, after a lot of dire warnings about regret and the dangers of invasive surgery, I managed to get it done! It only took 7 or 8 years. Heh.
Now then, let's see if all these holes in my ovaries can help with my PCOS symptoms.
Some things I have found, for women who want to get their tubes tied-
DO NOT assume that female doctors will be more likely to do it than males! I actually found more resistance from female doctors than from male ones- bothy my sister and I had out tubals done by men.
DO get a note from a psychologist stating that you are of sound mind. It's humiliating and insulting, yes, but it DOES help. Part of the reason for this is because, back during the turn of the century and actually much more recently than that, there were a lot of eugenics projects going on where doctors decided that the poor and the mentally ill should not be allowed to reproduce, and the sterilized these people against their will. During the Victorian era a hysterectomy was commonly performed alongside many surgeries in hospitals for the poor, even when the woman in question was pregnant. The other concern that doctors have is lawsuits filed by regretful women who later decide they DO want babies after all. I have been told by a couple of doctors that there is no real way for them to protect themselves from these suits- they might not always lose them, but they cannot stop them. "I didn't know what I was doing, I wasn't in my right mind, he manipulated me into it," is a common argument, and showing them that you ARE of sound mind does help to assuage these fears somewhat.
DO bring in any evidence of genetic diseases that run in your family. The MRI of my herniated disc and the fact that my father has had to have the same surgery that I had helped to convince my doctor to do it.
We SHOULD just be able to have it done because it is our choice, period. Unfortunately, the world isn't there just yet, and in fact women have been losing reproductive rights in recent years. :(
Anyway, for any of you who are looking to get a tubal, I wish you good luck! Be relentless, keep searching, keep fighitng. Eventually you can find a way!