complications after tubal ligation: part 2

February 27, 2012

Oh friends. I’m sitting here overwhelmed with gratitude for the way you’re taking your time to email me with your stories and/or your willingness for me to ask you some questions if you’ve had your tubes tied. (See part one about the aftermath of a tubal ligation.)

Writing about this here has been so eye-opening, and that’s a complete understatement.  What I know for sure is that doctors a) don’t know enough about this and/or b) don’t take it seriously by way of blaming other possibilities for the symptoms. But I know, I just know, that there’s no way that it is a coincidence that this many women would be experiencing the same thing after having had their tubes tied.

Many of you are asking what my symptoms are and yes, I’m willing to share. The only reason I didn’t in my first post is because I didn’t want to lead people to believe that their similar symptoms are for the same reason. You know, in case their symptoms are because of something else, I wouldn’t want to put ideas in people’s heads, I guess. I still feel this way. Be sure to educate yourself on your own personal situation. Of course, it may differ from mine and those of the people I’m hearing from.

First of all, I was reading through the many many emails I received overnight this morning and I was struck with what I want to say in all of this. Ladies, we know our bodies. Our bodies know us. We need to listen to our heart-guts. We need to use our voices. We need to stick up for ourselves when the medical community doesn’t take us seriously or isn’t sure what to do with female issues.

I can admit that I’ve sat in many doctor’s appointment over my lifetime and felt small. I’ve come into the appointment knowing whole-heartedly that something is wrong and many times I’ve known what is wrong and I end up shrinking back. Getting intimidated. Faltering. I’m sick of it.

Women’s health issues are complicated and I’m not faulting the practice of medicine for not perfecting their responses. I’m simply saying that women are often disregarded as irrational. And not only that, but because the issues are often complicated, they are often shrugged off as occasional hormonal imbalances. In my case, when I brought up concerns about my symptoms after having my tubes tied, the doctor immediately concluded that I’m struggling because I’m 8 (nearly nine) months postpartum and chalked up my extreme depression and anxiety (and other physical complications) to breastfeeding.

She suggested I stop breastfeeding and said she hoped that would help. (Yes, I’ll be finding a new doctor.)

I know myself. I know I have struggled with PPD and anxiety in the past but this is something far greater than the experiences I had after the boys.

  • my anxiety was so debilitating that no matter what I tried in over-coming it, mind over matter, deep breathing and yoga, etc…I could hardly function. Ryan had to start staying home from work. It was awful. (I’m using past tense because I’m on an anxiety medication to treat this symptom currently–and Dear God, I hope I don’t always have to treat symptoms with medication rather than the root of the problem.)
  • my depression was heavier than ever. Of course, anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand and they were skipping along having a great time together. This was a totally different depression than I’ve experienced before. I don’t know how to describe it other than hopeless. Just a terrible foreboding ugly thing like never before.
  • My skin has broken out in itchiness. I could scratch at my hands and arms all day long. It’s so distracting and painful. This is more evidence that something crazy hormonal is going on.
  • My digestive system is seriously wonky. I’ve never had any issues with this at all and now I do. I won’t go into detail. You’re welcome.
  • I have a few more personal symptoms that I’ll spare you. They don’t feel bloggable to me. If you’d like to know more, feel free to email me.
Because I’m only 9-ish months into this, my previous research and the emails I’ve been receiving since yesterday reveal a few more common problems that women have after tubal ligation. I have not experienced these because I’m still breastfeeding and haven’t gotten my period yet. (Sorry, male readers–as if you’re still reading this.)
  • majorly heavy periods starting only after the procedure
  • irregular periods
  • more painful cramping and pain around the time of the period and sometimes all the time
Women have also reported these complications due to having had a tubal ligation:
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • endometriosis (painful thickening of the lining of the uterus)
  • as I mentioned before, early menopause (this seems to be the most common)
But Heather, WHAT CAN WE DO? 
Good question. My doctor actually told me that a tubal reversal is not an option. I’ve learned since that appointment that that simply isn’t true. There are professionals that do take this condition seriously and I’ve read some things that state that reversals are not as complicated as some doctors believe them to be. Many doctors do reversals.
I also know women who have been put on hormone replacement therapy and medication (like me). I’m actually having my hormone levels checked this week to do some more digging into where I’m at with this whole thing.
Lastly, another important message I want to send out because of all of this? I’m notoriously impulsive and I trust unflinchingly quite readily. When the doctor told me this was a minor thing to do, I gave it very little thought. I did what so many of you admitted in your emails…especially after c-sections, we figure “well, you’re in there anyway, no big deal!” But it is. It’s a very big deal. I’m learning the hard way that sometimes it’s best to sit back and think things over. To ask myself what my body was made to do and what messing with it may cause. That’s not to say that I would forgo birth control all-together, but I wouldn’t do something so severe if I had it to do again.
Thank you BIG to each one of who has emailed, tweeted and started conversations on facebook. It matters so much that we talk about these issues. You’re the best.

P.S. There’s a lot to learn from the comments on the original post, in case you’d like to learn more.

Disclaimer: I am a woman telling my personal story and simply encouraging women to educate themselves about their decisions. I’m in no way suggesting that every situation is the same. There are many variables and unclear aspects to every medical condition/issue. I do not mean to suggest that if you are experiencing complications after a tubal ligation you should be certain each symptom is related. Some of these symptoms could be related to other conditions and these posts are only meant to encourage you to do research and talk openly with medical providers about your unique situation. The “research” I’m doing here is simply a conversation and is in no way scientific. But you knew that. Thank you.

(For an update, two years later, click here.)


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