Why I got my tubes tied before I turned 30

Guest post by Heather Gentry

Happiness is: NO KIDS FOR ME! By: thephotographymuseCC BY 2.0
When I first broached the subject of permanent, non-hormonal birth control with my gynecologist, I wasn’t even considering a tubal ligation. I had originally been trying to decide between the copper IUD and Essure. IUDs (intrauterine devices) are not permanent, but they do last a while. Essure (spring devices that are implanted in your fallopian tubes) is a fairly new procedure that can be performed in your gyno’s office but is permanent. I was leaning toward Essure because it was permanent and would only cost an office co-pay until this happened:

“If I were you, I would just get my tubes tied.” Floored, I asked why. “Well, they’ll put you to sleep, then you’ll wake up and it’ll be over. There’s minimal pain with recovery because it’s a laparoscopic procedure.”

So I made an appointment with a surgeon who explained how a tubal would go down. Basically, I should take off work for a week to deal with any side effects from the anesthesia. She told me it was possible my periods would get worse after the surgery. Besides actually having surgery, there was no downside that the other procedures didn’t carry as well.

Like any good introvert, I took months to decide. Surgery is big deal, especially to someone who has never even broken a bone, so I wasn’t about to make the decision lightly. I talked to my husband, I talked to myself, I wrote in my journal, I called my insurance. It was the money that finally pushed me to the decision. I had already met my deductible for the year, which pretty much cut the cost in half. So it seemed the decision to just go for it.

Then I had to start telling people. Those were not fun conversations. But somehow by convincing everyone else that I was sure of my decision I became very sure. For me, the question was never, “Do I want children?” The question was always: “Do I want to have surgery?”

I’ve never wanted to have kids. I’ve never wanted to be a mother. I’ve always been awkward with children, even more awkward than I am with adults. I’ve recognized this since I was in middle school. Don’t get me wrong. I was young and impressionable, and before I knew myself, I assumed I’d have kids with my high school sweetheart whom I was surely going to marry and also with my college sweetheart whom I did marry. But after we divorced and I realized that pretending to be this person I wasn’t was killing me slowly, I decided that anyone in a relationship with me would have to be content with never procreating with me.

I’ve always heard there’s some magic to being a parent, some transcendence that you only understand when you join the club. That may be true. I can see from the outside that being a parent changes a person from body to mind. Your needs change, your desires change, your world changes. I see that. I spent most of my life changing who I am, denying who I am, ignoring who I am because I thought I had to, because it was easier than questioning my family and friends all the time. And now… I just want to be me. I don’t want to be anyone’s mother.

I now sport a one-inch red and shimmery scar just below my belly button, the only evidence that I am now blissfully as incapable of having children as biology will allow. I thought the only result of the surgery would be peace of mind if I was a couple of days late for my period: there would be none of that “Oh, God, am I pregnant?” thought process that anyone who has accidentally made a human when it wasn’t the best time or place goes through. That’s a wonderful peace — but it’s not the only benefit.

Before the conversation with my gynecologist and before the certainty that came with reassuring everyone that I was sure about my decision, I had this small, teensy, itty-bitty piece of me that thought perhaps I should wait to make such a permanent decision until I was 30. By then, my biological clock would be in full swing, and maybe I would find that I do, in fact, want to have children. I was so fearful of my body making a decision that I didn’t want it to, of the universe deciding something for me that it had no right to decide. No one should be afraid of her own body or feel so out of control of her own life.

So I made a decision, the best decision for me. I took the possibility out of my future, and something strange happened: the veil of fear that muddled my present and future cleared. As a result, my tolerance for children has increased. I don’t automatically scroll past Facebook posts with pictures or videos of children. Sometimes I watch them. Sometimes I even smile and laugh. I am not afraid of those little critters with their too-big heads and loud mouths anymore. Those photos and videos are not forewarnings of my future. They are just cute, little critters that I can watch and then scroll past. I’m sure they are bundles of joy and transcendence for their parents. But for me?


Comments on Why I got my tubes tied before I turned 30

  1. I had my tubes tied when I was 25. I have epilepsy and I used that as an ‘in’ (medication interacts with birth control making it not effective, the medication itself can cause horrible birth defects). I wasn’t taking steps to get my seizures under control because I was terrified of having kids. I have always known that motherhood wasn’t for me. But the seizures were happening more frequently and I was in danger of losing my driver’s licence. I went to my gyno and basically said that not having kids was more important than not having seizures. I had an impassioned speech with hand motions and everything, but the doctor pretty much agreed with me right away. I have never regretted my decision for a moment.

    Though I did start freaking myself out reading about women who have gotten pregnant after a ligation and went back on birth control as well :o) Since I don’t need it as a primary source of contraception, I figure doubling up can’t hurt. Also, since starting medication for my epilepsy, I have been seizure free!! Everyone wins!!

    • I have catamenial epilepsy so I’m on continuous use birth control to “shut that whole thing down” (I love appropriating that phrase. So much.). But docs actually use that as an argument against me getting my tubes tied. I’m already on BC so why bother?

      It just blows my mind. I don’t want kids, and if I did want to have them, I would have to go off the medication that controls my seizures at the root cause.

      I live in MA. You’d think I would have been able to get the girls tied, but I’ve seen over a dozen doctors, and they all think I’ll change my mind.

      I don’t see what there is to change my mind about. I don’t want kids, and even if I did, I would have to put my life at risk to get pregnant, then take the risk that my seizures would get worse during or after pregnancy. It’s like no one has ever heard of SUDEP.

      No matter how hard any clock ticks, I’m not going to put my life at risk.

  2. Guys, I actually feel INCREDIBLY envious of all of you who have had it done. Here where I live (wonderfully conservative, assbackwards South Africa) I still have to put up with all the pro-baby, Adam-and-Eve bullshit when I ask a doctor (or any other medical professional) about sterilisation for myself OR my boyfriend.

    Trust me, I’ve heard it ALL – from the ageism (apparently 26 is too young and stupid to make such a decision, despite the fact that I already own a house) to the “what if you change your mind and then it will be too late” arguments and I am honestly at a loss. My boyfriend and I BOTH have known from a very early age that we do not want children and we do not ever see this changing. We both have debilitating anxiety disorders that will not only make us TERRIBLE parents, but we also do not want to pass it on to an innocent human being.

    Were any of you ever met with anything like this and how did you handle it?

    • I had exactly the ageism thing. I’m 25, been married for two years, and have a Masters degree. But am I old enough to decide not to ever have kids? Not to them.

      I always pointed out that if, instead of announcing that we were getting permanent birth control, that I had announced we were having a baby, then no one would be telling me I was too young to decide to have kids.

      • Ugh the WORST! :/ I find it rather ridiculous that we can have our pets sterilised (in fact, it’s encouraged!) but when we want to make educated, well researched decisions about our own bodies we are given all kinds of bullshit answers and “reasons” not to. Look, I get that in the end it’s probably a whole bunch of doctors who don’t want to get sued in ten years, but seriously – isn’t there a form you sign to protect them from that kind of thing?

        I know for a fact that I would not change my mind about having children – I physically cringe and recoil when I come near one, even if it belongs to a relative. It’s not even an act, it’s 100% a reflex – I don’t even realise I’m doing it until people tell me what my face looks like when there are children around. Said face also worsens accordingly in line with said child’s behaviour and/or age. I read enough STFU, Parents to know that childbirth (especially natural!!!) is one of the most horrifying and traumatising things a human can go through and then to top it all off, you’re saddled with an infant. No thanks. :/

  3. Where the hell are you finding doctors to do this? I’ve wanted this since I was 20 but no doctor will do it because I don’t already have children (super stupid).


    I didn’t get my tubes tied, but my husband got a vasectomy. We’re 25 and 27. I ALWAYS knew I didn’t want to give birth. It gives me panic attacks just thinking about it. When we made the decision, half of people said, “Good for you!” The other half said, “Don’t do that! You’re to young to know what you want! If you do it, you won’t be able to go back and undo it!”

    I really just wanted to scream at them. My biggest issue was that people felt I wasn’t old enough to make the life-altering decision to not have kids. But everywhere around me, people were praising my age group for making the life-altering decision to have kids. Double standard much?

    • “My biggest issue was that people felt I wasn’t old enough to make the life-altering decision to not have kids. But everywhere around me, people were praising my age group for making the life-altering decision to have kids. Double standard much?”

      +500 yes!

  5. Oh my word, so many thoughts from me… I guess they’re best summarized by this:

    I never wanted kids, was too (happily) selfish and impatient. I had so many lady problems it was ridiculous, and could not find a doctor to remove the organs causing it all.

    Six years ago, five years ago, my husband and I discovered I was pregnant with our surprise. We were horrified and scared and… surprised.

    Here she is, 5 years old and amazing… But I still can’t say I was meant for parenting. I feel both elated and guilty, elated that she is phenomenal and I know her, yet guilty that she could have accomplished so much more had she been born to a “mom”.

    Here I am with an amazing kid that I don’t have the capacity to appreciate…all because others felt their decision was greater than mine.


    • This crushes my heart. I’ve heard lots of stories of women not being able to get the procedure done for various reasons (mostly boiling down to, “YOU ARE WOMAN, YOU WANT CHILDREN!”) but I feel like it’s even MORE taboo to admit that you’d rather not be a mother even though you ARE one. Thank you for sharing your story that, even with a lovely child, it’s not all roses if it wasn’t your choice. So few women could ever come forward and say that.

  6. I really like the recurring point in the comments about the permanency of having children, and I wish I’d thought of it when I was arguing with doctors. My primary care physician at the time surprised me by hearing my semi-prepared wall-of-words tirade about why I didn’t want children, complete with the promotion of my then-boyfriend (now husband) to fiancee, and a ring suspiciously seated on my left ring finger. Turns out I probably didn’t need to say half of it. When I was done, she said it was clear I’d put a lot of thought into it, she asked me a few additional questions, and happily gave me my referral. I’d gone in expecting the fight of my life; this woman had been my doctor for YEARS, is a mother herself, and is friendly with my mother. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

    Finding a gyn to be so willing, on the other hand, was hell, and that hell was amplified by the fact that I didn’t HAVE a gyn at the time, as mine had retired between one annual and the next. Then there’s the added complication that I’m not really comfortable with a male doctor poking around down there, so my choices were further (albeit not much) limited by that fact. I was fortunate that the first office I hit upon had a gyn taking patients that was willing to discuss the issue… but it took a dozen phonecalls to find that doctor. She stonewalled me just about every step of the way, but in the end, when I gave her the ultimatum of, “Look, I need to get this done before my insurance lapses. If you won’t do it, tell me so I can find a doctor who will,” she relented. Relented is perhaps not the best choice of words… throughout the entire process, every followup and even the morning of, she would try to plant seeds of doubt and talk me down from my decision, but in the end, I got what I wanted, and I’m quite happy. Because it CAN fail, it hasn’t COMPLETELY allayed my fears of an accidental pregnancy (my cycles are disastrously unpredictable), but it’s certainly been a fiscally sound decision (hooray for not having to buy condoms anymore!) and never once have I remotely considered how sad it is that I can’t have children.

    (For the record: This is something I discussed with my now-husband before we even got engaged. Not having children was important enough to me that if he wanted them as badly as I wanted not to have them, that would have been a dealbreaker for me. Thankfully, he’s just as on board with maintaining our autonomy and the ability to (relatively) just jump and go do things that sound awesome (I say relatively because we do have a furbaby that needs feeding, but he’s substantially less needy than a human child would be..))

  7. I am so happy I came across your blog/post. I am 32 years old, previously married, and getting my Tubal Ligation tomorrow morning. I’ve been reading so many posts online tonight that scared me, but after reading your story I am sticking to my decision. I can’t believe how much we have in common! I was also married and thought we’d have kids, but every time he would mention it I would brush it off and extend the wait time. We eventually divorced and since then I made the decision and realization that kids aren’t for me. I love my nephew so much, but I can hand him back over when I’m ready to take off and do ‘me’. Thanks again, and hopefully I don’t experience any on the symptoms I read about!!!

    BTW, I was on the pill for 12 years an then Mirena for a year and a half. I couldn’t believe the hormone in Mirena caused me to gain weight, but it did! 40 pounds to be exact!! I never want to take hormones again!

  8. I can’t believe I never commented this article since it was so defining in my view of parenthood when I read upon first publication.

    “I never wanted to be anyone’s mother”: before that, I never envisioned reproducing as “being someone’s mother”. Like everyone else, I thought about it in termes “do I want to have a baby/child?”. Asking this question in terms of motherhood really helped me. I certainly don’t want to be anyone’s mother.
    “I don’t want my body to make this decision for me”: oh, how I hear you. My sister-in-law and a friend never wanted kids until they woke and their bodies told them to. This is terrifying to me.

    I sport a copper IUD which will last another 4 years. I’ll be 34 by then. I guess my chances of reproducing will be close to nil, but if I’m still in the “nope, nope, noooooope” side of parenthood, I’ll seek permanent contraception. Thank you for this article again, we can never get too many pieces like this in this world where parenthood is still viewed as the finality of our lives, especially as women.

  9. Curious about the doctors reactions. I’m a military spouse who recently went in for a consult on getting a tubal ligation. 29 years old, no children and 100% certain that they aren’t for me. Like you, I’ve known from a young age that I do not want them, I skip past most of the child posts on Facebook even going so far as to hiding friends once they become pregnant, and cringe when they are in close proximity at stores etc. During the consult, the doctor repeatedly kept commenting how he “wasn’t judging” to which I interpetted as him judging my family planning. My husband (who also works in the hospital) did not come to the consult with me since he works nights and was fast asleep. This seemed unusual for all the staff as they kept asking why he wasn’t there. I felt I was on trial, specifically when he asked why my husband doesn’t go get a vasectomy and I didn’t answer right away (about a 10 second delay as I was already feeling defensive by the endless questions about why my husband wasn’t there). I had to explain that I’m pro choice and this was about me and my body. I wouldn’t make a choice regarding my husbands body for him as he doesn’t make choices about mine. My dilemma now is that I’m absolutely not comfortable with this Dr. yet he has agreed to preform the procedure. We are scheduled to move duty stations in May and the procedure will be performed early April. If I choose to wait till we move back to the states (currently overseas in Europe right now), then there will be additional steps of having to see my primary care provider to get a referral to the OBGYN, then scheduling a consult and having to again convince them why I want this done which they can refuse to preform it. After speaking with my husband about how the consult went, he said that I should wait until the states, but I’m worried that the Dr. there will not preform it. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions but I feel that military Dr’s are a bit skewed and biased towards sterilization. I’m wondering now if I should wait until my husband leaves the military for good in 2016.

    • Military doctors are extremely biased! I was active duty for 11 years and I tried to have a permanent procedure done since about age 24/25/26. No military doctor would even entertain the options unless I already had at least one kid or was min. age of 30. Every doctor felt it was their duty to “inform” aka scare me will all the downsides and risks and “what if you change your mind” scenarios that I wanted to scream. They support 19 y/o dependents getting pregnant and having kids, then shipping their spouse on a 6-month to 1-yr deployment, while this new mother raises her infant basically alone, or the military mother who doesn’t quite yet understand the concept of birth control and has 3 kids by 3 different people, yet my decision to *not* have kids is mind-blowing.

      When I left the Service, I found a new doctor as a matter of course, when she wasn’t supportive of my decision, I found a PCM who was. Now I had my tubal ligation at age 30. My doctor asked me how I feel about it and I replied “relieved.”

  10. Thank you so much for posting this.
    I am 22 years old and I have 10 siblings, must of which I have been responsible for raising, so my whole life the idea of not having children wasn’t an option. The only people I knew who didn’t have children was because they physically couldn’t. The idea that someone chose not to have children was insane. So I went about my life knowing I was going to have children, and a lot of them (like 12). I planned my life around having children. I made my college major choices around having children. What degree would allow me to graduate the fastest and have all the time needed to raise children (something I am very aware of), ect.
    Then I moved across the country to be with my boyfriend of the time (now husband of 4 months) and we met people who chose not to have children. People our age, people older. It was amazing to think someone chose not to have children. They explained their reasons and while I knew all those reasons I just never thought they could result in choosing not to have children. I always thought “yeah, theres all these awful things about having kids but unless your unable to have them then you have to deal with all this awful”. So fast forward a few months and I start thinking about a life without children. This new possibility started as “if we never have children then ____will never happen” and within a few weeks turned into “if we never have children then we get to do ____” and eventually it became clear that without the pressure to reproduce and have my life figured out as soon as possible I was a lot less stressed and a lot more willing to follow my dreams.
    Now here we are, my husband is getting nipped next year (I want to do surrogacy for someone and the male procedure is easier so we decided him having it was better for our situation) and I’m going to go back to school to become a doctor like I always wanted to do but couldn’t with the whole having kids thing hanging over my head. And I’m going to try and be an Air Force Doctor. And we are have a huge list of things we want to do that would have never been possible with kids.
    So thank you again for posting about this. It was really resonating. 🙂

    • Alex, I am glad you and your husband are on the same page. Sometimes having children is one sided, and the other partner in a way ‘gives in’. We only live once and you have to do what is best for you. Good luck in school, and may the two of you reach every goal you desire. Enjoy!

      • Thank you. 🙂 I’m hoping to be able to start college again in the next spring semester. We have put a lot of thought into and we are both over-thinkers who over analyze every decision before making it. We have pros and cons lists for everything, big things like when to have our wedding, to small things like what vegetable to have with dinner. We plan everything years in advance and after long deliberation came to our decision and honestly my anxiety has never been better. Taking that part of out the equation was like a miracle cure. And I’m super excited to become a doctor! We haven’t told any family of our decision yet though. I’m pretty sure is folks are going to flip since they REALLY want grand babies from us (his sister who is popping them out like crazy moved across the country so they only get to see their grand babies once a year). I’m sure once I tell my dad he will be supportive. My sister is gonna flip her lid because she wants our kids to grow up together xp. But it’s our decision, our life, and this is what works best for us. Even if m OBGYN thinks its crazy for someone who wants to be an OBGYN to not want to have kids.
        Sorry, tangent. xp
        Thank you 🙂

  11. I’m 22, single, and working on my master’s in clinical social work. I don’t ever want children of my own. I don’t think it’s weird for others to want biological children but that’s something that’s not for me, for pleanty of reasons.

    – I don’t want biological children
    – I don’t want to carry a child (its not a phobia, or anything)
    – I have a rare genetic inflamatory disorder with a 55% rate of miscarrage due to the nature of the disease.
    – I could potentially pass the disease onto my child.
    – I love kids, and would love to adopt one day (so no, I won’t regret not being able to be a “mother”).
    – I don’t want a foreign object sitting inside me (for the rest of my life) as birth control- not to mention the side effects AND probablility of getting pregnant. I don’t even use tampons…
    – I’ve had horrible experiences with hormonal birth control including having a golfball-sized ovarian cyst rupture inside of me. -> not to mention the worst pain of my life (worst than my disease, in which abdominal pain can sometimes mimic a ruptured appendix).
    -I think I would be absolutely psychologically and physically devasted if I had to choose between getting an abortion or carrying a child to term ( I am pro-choce btw).
    – I personally think (for me at least) it’s phsycially, psychologically, and financially excessive to go through fertility treatments when there’s plenty of already-born children seeking good parents, only to end up home-to-home through the foster care system.

    All of this aside, I believe in full human autonomy, and the right for fully competent and informed adult women (and men) to willingly choose elective sterilization. I don’t know how well any of the reasons I gave will fly with a doctor, but I desperately want my tubes tied. However, there are SO MANY obstacles I face, that prevents me from getting it including: age, location (NC), sexist ideologies, and cost.

    From women who’ve had tubal ligation, or partial hysterectomies, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST STEP? I’m not in a rush to get this but I DO want this within the next 5 years. I was thinking about going to a psychologist or counselor to talk to them about this in hopes that ongoing documentation would prove that I am mentally competent to make this choice in the future.

    Sorry this was so long, any thoughts? PLEASE RESPOND.

    • Hi, Raquel! This is the original poster. Have you talked to a gynecologist about getting sterilized? That’s all I did. I think I ended up having an easier time than some, but it’s not a bad place to start. If you have a good primary care/family doctor, ask him/her for a reference to an open-minded gyno office. Mine was in a hospital and had general surgeons who did those kind of procedures regularly. Try that. I originally went to that appointment assuming I’d have to jump through some hoops, like getting counseling and sign some papers/waivers. I didn’t after all. In your situation, it can’t hurt to ask and keep asking until you find someone who will do the surgery. Figure out what reassurances they need and then do it if you are comfortable with them. If I was able to get this surgery in Tennessee, then I think you should able to find someone in North Carolina to do it.

      • Thanks Heather!

        It’s good to hear from a like-minded individual. The friends/family that I’ve brought this up to never truely seem to understand, or think I’ll eventually change my mind. I’ve actually haven’t spoken to a gynecologist yet, in fear of hearing what others have heard from practicioners and such. But now that you’ve brought it up it’s something I’ll definitely look into. I understand that my experience may not be as easy as yours but fingers crossed!
        Regarding cost, did your insurance cover yours or was it out of pocket? Currently I’m under my parent’s tricare insurance, but I’d much rather wait until I graduate and get my own insurance like BlueCross if my job were to offer it.

        Thanks for replying!

        • I had mine done through public health, so look into your local government health agency to see if they have a family planning department. Good luck.

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  13. Wow. Just wow. I could have written this word-for-word! I got my tubes tied when I was 20 years old and I haven’t regretted it once. I had no idea how many women had a hard time getting it done until afterward – I had great insurance and an amazing doctor who listened to me and said “you’re an adult and if you’re 100% sure this is what you want I have no problem with it.”

    Now at 32 I’m still learning who I am myself and couldn’t imagine my life with children. I’ve never been maternal. I’ve never longed to have a baby. I know that 12 years ago I made the right call and I’m so incredibly thankful I had a compassionate doctor who honored my wishes.

  14. I love how clear it is that this was the right choice for you and yet you still affirm people who make a different. So many pieces about choosing to have kids and not choosing to have kids tend towards judgement. This piece is so positive and respectful of choices, it’s awesome.

  15. Elena, a hysterectomy and a tubal ligation (in laymen terms tying tubes) are completely different surgical procedures. I had my tubes tied which means I still have my ovaries and uterus, but my fallopian tubes have been burned/rendered unusable. The end result is that an egg can’t get to my uterus to implant.

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