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How to React When Your Doctor Refuses to Sterilize You

So your doctor refuses to sterilize you? Don’t worry, you have more options than you might think.


Of the women who use contraception, 20 percent of them choose sterilization over any other birth control option. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in 2017 estimates that sterilization is the second most popular form of contraception. With all that being said, it is not uncommon for women to get denied this option. It’s not unheard for doctors to tell women that they will regret their decision of permanent sterilization, and refuse the procedure. Imagine yourself in this scenario. How are you supposed to react when a doctor refuses to sterilize you?

Your opinions and emotions are valid, so be inquisitive.

Unless you are very prepared, chances are you didn’t get to ask all the questions you wanted to when your doctor said no to getting your tubes tied. You might have already left the office, too, despite the fact that you have a million more questions and arguments that have popped into your head that you need answers to. Don’t be afraid to call your obstetrician and gynecologist and make another appointment. Come into the appointment prepared with all your questions in hand, and be ready to stand up for yourself. You deserve all the answers you want, and this doctor will hear you out. Be aware though, if they denied you before, they will likely deny you again. Go into this appointment with an open mind and ready to learn. You can take that with you as you continue your search for a doctor who will sterilize you.

Write a review.

The pen is mightier than the sword. Don’t be afraid to go online and voice your opinion in a review of your OB/GYN. Other people will want to know about your experience. Other women who are considering sterilization will definitely want to know. You can save them time and money by writing your review. Writing a review also lets your doctor or the office know that you had a bad experience, and were not satisfied with the care you received. That could prompt them to take action to try and make up for the negative experience. After all, that is what reviews are for in the first place. If writing online reviews isn’t up your alley, you could also call the office and tell them you won’t be coming back to their practice because of X, Y, Z. Protect your bodily autonomy any way you can!

Look for groups to join online and talk with someone.

Chances are, if you have been denied by a doctor to get your tubes tied, other women have too! Get online and FIND. THEM. You will find support groups and other women who are looking for some camaraderie in seeking sterilization. Search on Reddit, Facebook, Meetup, and Instagram. You will find comfort in knowing and talking with women who are going the same thing.

Before you write off group therapy, you should know it has so many benefits. Talking with different women from different backgrounds can give you a new perspective on the same situation in the long term. Use this group as a way to voice your frustrations. Online groups are often free and cheaper than personal therapy, use that to your advantage and bond with women going through the same thing as you.

Use your friends' experience as a guideline and do what they did.

You might be feeling angry and bitter that you can’t find a doctor to sterilize you, but having a group of women to talk with may give you a new answer or solution. Ask your group how they have been successful in their sterilization search, and then do what your new found friends have done.

For instance, in your online group, there is bound to be someone who experienced being turned away in your area and maybe she found a doctor who was willing to do the procedure. Reach out to that doctor and schedule an appointment for your permanent sterilization.

Bounce ideas off your friends, find out what did and did not work for them and then go from there.

Get a second opinion.

Photo by Martin Brosy on Unsplash

Just because one doctor said no, that does not mean EVERY doctor will say no. In a study published by the Mayo clinic in 2017, researchers found that 88 percent of the time that a patient gets a second opinion, their diagnosis or care plan changes. That means there is only a 12 percent chance that the second doctor you go to will deny your request for tubal ligation or any other form of permanent contraception that you choose. So keep your head up! The odds are ever in your favor when you get a second opinion, but even if your second opinion doesn’t go well and you land in the 12 percent, don’t fret! You still have plenty of other options and doctors to choose from.

Planned Parenthood is a great asset, and could provide you the help you need.

Planned Parenthood (PP) is a great place to go for any questions regarding your reproductive health. When it comes to sterilization, PP does have some options. Depending on your insurance, it can cost anywhere from $0 to $6,000. Because of the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans must cover all forms of contraception, including sterilization.

PP also has a function on their website where you can find health centers that will perform your sterilization. All you need to do is click the link and type in your zip code. Then, dozens of options will come up in your area.

Planned Parenthood is dedicated to helping women find the best care possible; so if you can not find a doctor willing to sterilize you, Planned Parenthood will help.

Look at other birth control options.

So you want to be child free for the rest of your life, but sterilization doesn’t seem to be something any of your doctors are willing to do? Well, there are other nearly permanent forms of contraception you can consider.

First, there is the pill. The pill is the single most common form of birth control. Of all women who use birth control, 25 percent rely on the pill. You might be rolling your eyes right now. If you are considering sterilization, taking the pill is the last thing you want to do.

The next effective and closest form of birth control option you can get (closest to sterilization) is an IUD or intrauterine device. There are multiple brands of IUDs, but each fall into one of two categories: Hormonal and Non-Hormonal. The reason I say that they are the closest to permanent forms of contraception is because they are 99.9 percent effective, and once an IUD is inserted, you don’t have to worry about pregnancy for a minimum of five to 10 years.

IUDs are the most effective form of birth control besides sterilization and, of course, abstaining from sex, but be wary: Birth control side effects have been reported on different occasions.

See if your significant other can get sterilized.

So, let’s say you have exhausted all your options and you’re running on fumes. Every doctor you’ve been to has refused to sterilize you, and you don’t want to go on any birth control. What other options could you possibly have? Well, it takes two to tango. Maybe it’s time to ask your significant other if they’d be willing to be sterilized.

There are few reasons why you might consider a vasectomy, instead of getting your tubes tied. One reason is for a man, sterilization is often a more cost effective procedure. Where female sterilization can costs upwards of $6,000, male sterilization should only cost you up to $1,000. That price tag is only if you don’t have insurance, or your insurance doesn’t cover the procedure.

The second reason a vasectomy might a good choice is that the recovery time for male sterilization is much, much quicker. After a vasectomy, men can get full back into their normal life after only 72 hours. For women, it can take up to three weeks.

Wait.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

This may be the last thing you want to hear, but you might need to wait a little longer (maybe years) before a doctor will agree to sterilize you. Many young women who have always known they don’t want children go into an OB/GYN office hoping for sterilization. If they’re women under the age of 30 with no children though, the discussion about sterilization barely starts before it ends. Many doctors tell these women that they will regret their decision to sterilize at such a young age. Although it’s none of the doc’s business, all medical professionals take an oath to do no harm. If sterilizing a 20-something breaks what that oath means to them, then they can deny the patients request.

Try again.

Don’t. Give. Up! Every time a new doctor refuses to sterilize you, or you visit a new clinic, you’re learning more information and getting one step closer to sterilization. Eventually you will find a doctor who is more than willing and understands your needs and wants. You will have to think outside the box, and possibly even cross state lines to get the procedure done, but there is a doctor out there willing to help.

Remember, even though you might not be sterilized, there are plenty of different types of birth control options to choose from until you get your fallopian tubes tied, or until you’re old enough that a doctor will take your request seriously. You never know when you will be successful in your sterilization search, but it very well could be the next call you make.

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