Risk and contraception : What women are not told about tubal ligation

http://www.popline.org/docs/1029/091715.html

Lyn Turney*

School of Social Inquiry, Deakin University, Geelong, Vic 3217, Australia
Available online 13 July 2002.

Abstract

Tubal ligation is a commonly used routine procedure for female sterilisation. It is promoted as a very safe and highly effective method of permanently controlling fertility. Yet, since the early 1930s, there have been reports in the medical literature indicating that there are both short-and long-term problems with the procedure. This article reviews the medical and scientific literature in which these problems are reported in an attempt to synthesise and make sense of the results and their implications for women. Contrary to the way it is promoted, tubal ligation is fraught with complications which place at risk the health and well-being of many women. Its sequelae includes many gynaecological problems ranging from torsion, hydrosalpinx, and endometriosis to irreversible interferences with the endocrine system. It is clear that tubal ligation is not the ‘clean cut’ procedure that it purports to be, and, in the interests of women, the myths about safety and efficacy need to be publicly dispelled.

The most common method of fertility control is tubal ligation. Physicians and some women promote tubal sterilization as an extremely safe and very effective method of permanent fertility control. Yet the medical profession has known since 1930 that significant numbers of women suffer serious and irreversible complications from tubal ligations; women have died from tubal ligation. Its mortality rates in Bangladesh, the UK, and US, are 1/5000, 1/10,000, and 1/25,000, respectively. Women experience complications both during and after surgery (e.g., twisting of the tube, sometimes accompanied by gangrene, and accumulation of fluid in a tube). After tubal ligation, many women develop endometriosis. Torsion, hydrosalpinx, and/or endometriosis contribute to increased menstrual pain. Disturbance of the local flora can cause sepsis (e.g., toxic shock syndrome). Some women have a severe inflammatory reaction to the silicone in clips and rings. Tubal ligation may be linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Many sterilized women eventually undergo hysterectomy. Many women experience excessive bleeding during menstruation, but many physicians discount this as women not knowing their own bodies and subjective estimates of blood loss. Impaired ovarian blood supply and altered nerve supply to the tube and/or ovary are possible causes for post-tubal ligation menstruation problems. Many women experience memory loss, general decline in feeling of well-being, lethargy, and loss of libido after tubal ligation, indicating a spontaneous iatrogenic menopause. Yet physicians often attribute these symptoms to psychological problems, thereby denying women knowledge of their own bodies. Tubal ligation-induced problems should not be limited to the medical profession. We need to seriously examine the processes that keep this information from women.

Source: WOMEN’S STUDIES INTERNATIONAL FORUM. 1993 Sep-Oct;16(5):471-86.

Abstract: The most common method of fertility control is tubal ligation. Physicians and some women promote tubal sterilization as an extremely safe and very effective method of permanent fertility control. Yet the medical profession has known since 1930 that significant numbers of women suffer serious and irreversible complications from tubal ligations; women have died from tubal ligation. Its mortality rates in Bangladesh, the UK, and US, are 1/5000, 1/10,000, and 1/25,000, respectively. Women experience complications both during and after surgery (e.g., twisting of the tube, sometimes accompanied by gangrene, and accumulation of fluid in a tube).

After tubal ligation, many women develop endometriosis. Torsion, hydrosalpinx, and/or endometriosis contribute to increased menstrual pain. Disturbance of the local flora can cause sepsis (e.g., toxic shock syndrome). Some women have a severe inflammatory reaction to the silicone in clips and rings. Tubal ligation may be linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer. Many sterilized women eventually undergo hysterectomy. Many women experience excessive bleeding during menstruation, but many physicians discount this as women not knowing their own bodies and subjective estimates of blood loss. Impaired ovarian blood supply and altered nerve supply to the tube and/or ovary are possible causes for post-tubal ligation menstruation problems.

Many women experience memory loss, general decline in feeling of well-being, lethargy, and loss of libido after tubal ligation, indicating a spontaneous iatrogenic menopause. Yet physicians often attribute these symptoms to psychological problems, thereby denying women knowledge of their own bodies. Tubal ligation-induced problems should not be limited to the medical profession. We need to seriously examine the processes that keep this information from women.

63 thoughts on “Risk and contraception : What women are not told about tubal ligation

  1. Hi You say that you have arthritis. What type of arthritis. I have had my tubes done since 2003 and have had no problems but now I have been told I have bursits in my shoulder.

  2. I’ve always had issues with my periods and reproductive organs. In May of 2014, I started bleeding heavily continuously. I tried oral contraceptives as well as hormone supplements to stop it with no luck. After all of the tests and everything were done, all that anyone could find was a small (2mm) uterine fibroid. The doctor believed that it wouldn’t be cause of my issues, but recommended an endometrial ablation with tubal ligation. He assured me that there would be little to no side effects.
    By this time, it was September. So, I signed up. I had my surgery just this last October. I have had mood swings, headaches, digestive issues, and nausea ever since. I’ve gained weight and, occasionally, for seemingly no reason, the healed areas where they “went in” on my stomach sting or ache.

    If I had known it was going to be like this, I would have just found another way to deal with the bleeding.

    Shame on me for trusting my doctor, a trained medical professional, to tell me the truth.

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