Getting ‘Fixed’ is not a requirement for responsible adulthood
The Big Questions
“How do you know when you’re done having babies?”
“How do you know when your family is complete?”
These two questions come up often in the online world of Facebook mommy groups and blogs. Implicit in this question is the assumption that a couple must at some point definitively decide to be “done” with the reproductive season of their lives. It is just something you have to do.
But what if it isn’t?
This is interesting to me. My husband and I have never looked at our fertility in that way, so I sometimes feel out of place in conversations like this.
What does it really mean when a couple does decide to be “done” having children? Well, usually it means the decision to undergo a medical procedure to intentionally render oneself sterile. To take our baby making parts and break (not fix) them. On purpose.
We tend to be very black and white when it comes to baby-making. We live in the world of “choice” and the ability to control everything in our lives. Or so it seems.
I’d like to propose that you are not required to do this in order to be a responsible person. In fact, you can be a deeply thoughtful and responsible person who decides to keep your baby making parts intact.
Here are a few reasons I think you should consider this.
You can’t predict the future.
First, there’s the fact that our future desires might not be the same as today’s desires. We also have no idea what will happen in the future. You or your spouse could get hit by a bus tomorrow or you could suffer the loss of a child. My mother-in-law lost her daughter at the age of 7. One of the saddest things she ever said to me was that she wished she’d had more children while she could. “You never think you’ll lose a child,” she said. Not that a future child replaces a lost child, but a couple who loses a child may find their homes and hearts more empty, and may find room for another child where before there didn’t seem to be. Older children also grow up and move out, leaving a lot of quiet and empty space.
Sterilization is not risk-free
Sterilization can come with serious side effects. Men who undergo vasectomies can develop blood clots or post-vasectomy pain syndrome. Vasectomies are also not so easy to reverse if there are complications or if you change your mind.
For women, the Essure sterilization procedure became popular a few years ago. Go google “Essure.” The first two hits I get on my browser are ads for attorneys so you can join a class action lawsuit against Bayer, the manufacturer of Essure. There are now hundreds of online groups of women describing the horrific side effects they’ve had from Essure. You wouldn’t wish some of these side effects on your worst enemy.
Tubal ligation or “getting your tubes tied” involves a surgical procedure (or is sometimes done during a C-Section). Surgery itself always involves some level of risk, such as: reactions to anesthesia, blood clots, or infections. Numerous women have also reported problems with menopausal like symptoms following tubal ligations. Enough women have come forward with issues that the condition has been dubbed “tubal ligation syndrome,” though in the medical community, who has deemed the procedure ‘safe and low-risk,’ this is a controversial diagnosis.
It’s not weird if you don’t want to subject your body or your spouse’s body to these health risks.
Consider that your baby making parts are for more than just making babies
I think we’ve just scratched the surface of understanding all that our reproductive organs do. Consider that intentionally destroying or removing healthy parts of our body may have health repercussions that we don’t understand yet. Think of all that scientists have discovered about our bodies in the last 20 years. Think about how bacteria was viewed just 15 years ago. Bacteria was commonly understood to be ‘bad.’ Then scientists started to realize that bacteria may be playing a huge role in our overall health and wellness. Maybe trying to keep everything super clean and prescribe antibiotics for the common cold actually IS harmful, where once it was considered to be very low-risk and without serious side effects. Bacteria may be playing a role in our overall immune health, our weight, and chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
What else do we not currently understand about our fertility organs? What other repercussions of mass sterilization do we not foresee? Sometimes we don’t understand the subtle but long-term repercussions of our actions on our bodies, the bodies of our future children, our society, or our environment.
Some couples think that getting fixed will help them with some aspect of their sexual relationship
Like, if we just don’t have to think about family planning anymore, we won’t argue about frequency of sex, or our family planning intentions. It’s kind of like a contract. We’re now both pinky-swearing that we’ll never want to have another child again. No one gets to change their mind. And after all, if the goal for everyone is sex free from the worry of possible pregnancy, then sterilization should only help people have great sex, right?
Doubtful. I recently had a conversation with a friend who was sterilized a few years ago when she and her husband decided they needed to be done having children. Our conversation was about the problems they are having in their sexual relationship. Now that family planning isn’t an issue, her husband expects much more frequent sex. They can’t seem to come to a place of agreement about the role of their sex life in their overall relationship. She feels that he’s boiled their entire relationship down to the amount of sex that they have. I felt really sad for her. I don’t think that getting sterilized helped her in the way she thought it would. I think having to think about family planning actually helps us temper our sometimes selfish urges and make us behave in a much more grown-up away about sex.
I also suspect that if complications DO arise from a sterilization procedure, that it would be really hard not to have some anger and resentment towards the spouse who supported it or even guilted you into doing it.
Finally, you don’t have to know exactly how you feel about the size of your family right now. You don’t have to have a perfect answer for whether or not you are done. It’s ok to not have all the answers, to be flexible, or to wait and see what life holds for you in the future. Reproductive organs are often seen as disposable parts. Ones that can be taken out once they’ve reached the end of their usefulness. But you can reject this philosophy. You can choose to have a fully intact, fully functioning reproductive system until it naturally stops fully working, on its own time. You can choose to be fully you, reproductive parts and all. You are not broken and you don’t need to be fixed.
Thank you for reading! If you have a comment or question, please email me at Shirelle@InfinityFertilityCare.com
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