December 16, 2013
I've seen this story about being childless floating all over social media recently, and I like the story. I kinda have to, right? I mean, this is a thing and all.
But, it got me thinking about this post from the early years of the blog. The one thing that stuck with me after going through the Essure procedure for medical sterilization was how much my body and my mind changed. I'll not repeat myself here since I've already said it. My experiences are not unique, and I want to spread the word for those who share my childfree intentions. If you're going to chose not to have kids, know your options.
Birth control changed the world forever, and I for one am very grateful for it. But, there are facts to consider if you plan on using hormones to prevent pregnancy.
There are the standard concerns about the pill making you a higher risk for cancer and blood clots. There's also the concern that women who smoke shouldn't take the pill. These are all the standard risk factors trotted out in front of women seeking prescriptions. But, there's more than that I think we should be aware of.
For some of us, taking the pill can actually affect our desire for and quality of our sex lives. Synthetic estrogen can cause a woman to be less interested in sex, or for the fireworks of orgasm to be more like birthday candles. For the truly unlucky, we can experience pain during intercourse attributed to blood flow changes in the vulva and perineum.
If that's not depressing enough, the pill can also add to a depressed mood or other emotional side effects. Ever wonder why you don't see many young women leading the charge in American society? Consider that the side effects of hormonal birth control can affect our moods and mental health. Many of the women you see in positions of power are older and probably no longer have the need for an oral contraceptive.
Synthetic hormones can also play a part in choosing your partner, or possibly in the dissolution of a relationship. While infertile (usually during pregnancy) women tend to prefer men with similar genetic makeups. While fertile, women prefer a contrasting genetic partner. Want more info? Look at the Sweaty T-Shirt experiment.
Have you noticed an increase in crazy emotional women who just seem to be unhinged, and you're amazed they continue to attract romantic interest? I have. The best I can come up with is they've been on some sort of birth control for an extended time and they've acclimated to the changes in their mood and emotional stability. I don't think it would be advisable to straight up accuse those we consider bat shit insane to flush their pills. But, I think it's something we should all consider. How much personality change is acceptable to be in control of our reproductive future?
I'm absolutely not advocating throwing our iconic pill cases into the streets. I celebrate the pill and all it can do for a woman. What I am saying is, know your options. If you're in it for the long haul and don't plan on having kids, maybe investigate non-hormonal methods. If you don't like the idea of surgery, an IUD is an option.
If surgery isn't off the table, you can consider either the Essure procedure or tubal ligation. With Essure, there is no cutting. The procedure is done through existing orifices. For me there was virtually no recovery time. The drawback was that I needed to use an alternate method of birth control until we could confirm that the scar tissue had formed. That took about 3 months. To verify that I was sterile, I had to undergo an HSG I had to haggle with my insurance company that my test was not for a fertility treatment, but rather to confirm infertility before they'd cover it. But, all said and done, it was a covered procedure for me. The drawback to Essure over other permanent contraceptives is that I do have those coils in my Fallopian tubes. They can leave shadows on abdominal medical images. But, with the way imaging technologies are advancing, I didn't see that as being a deal breaker.
Then there's old faithful; tubal ligation. If I have my sources right, this can be either reversible, or non-reversible. But, either way it does involve cutting so you'll have a small scar and some recovery time. I think it might be more accepted, and more well known, so insurances are possibly more likely to cover it.
There may be other options out there. Since I've made my decision, I haven't been following new technologies like I once did. Also, if you have a doctor that seems to want to tell you that you're not able to make up your own mind about not having kids, or tell you that you'll change your mind, shop around. More and more medical professionals are warming up to the idea that not every woman's goal in life is to have kids. If yours doesn't take you seriously, find one that will. The point I'm trying to make is this. Be an informed consumer and your own personal advocate. You owe that much to yourself.