Real Life

My tubes were tied at 25

An expert opinion – read before continuing to the article below

Ian Page, New Zealand deputy chairman of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Gynaecologists, says Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome is considered controversial and many specialists doubt its existence.

“oany of the symptoms of which women complain are [also] found in women who have not been sterilised. Women who believe they have it frequently report increased menstrual bleeding and cramps, hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, and mood swings. Although it has been blamed on changes in hormone levels, studies have not found consistent changes to support the claim.”

Ian also says there is no specific treatment and the symptoms may be related to stopping taking the contraceptive pill, so restarting it could help.

“Some women have had their tubal ligation reversed and claim to feel better, but there are no large studies to confirm this as either effective or appropriate treatment.”

It’s not known how many women regret having their tubes tied, but Ian says most who do, don’t seek a reversal.

“Those that seek reversal usually do so because they wish to have [more] children, rather than because of symptoms [resulting] from the procedure itself.”

If Michelle Rautu had known about the many health problems that would plague her after having her tubes tied, she would never have had the operation.

The 25-year-old opotiki woman decided to be sterilised after her third child, but now she feels so ill, she deeply regrets her decision.

Michelle says she is suffering from a controversial medical condition known as Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome, which she believes is a side effect from having her tubes tied.

She believes the operation has caused a hormonal imbalance, which has led to 17 side effects, including hot flushes, rapid heart beat, mood swings, long and painful periods, hot and cold sweats, loss of libido, anxiety, bloating and weight gain, a decrease in breast mass, headaches and electric shock sensations under itchy skin.

Michelle had her tubes tied after giving birth to oia – now one year old – who she gave to her childless sister-in-law and her partner to raise as part of a Maori whangai adoption. After that, she decided against having more children.

“I didn’t want [oia] to look at me when she’s older and ask, ‘Why did you give me away and have more kids?'”

But in the months after her operation, Michelle began to feel like she was going into early menopause and kept going back to her doctor with various complaints.

She was put on five different medications – including antidepressants – before she discovered information about Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome on the internet. It was the first she had heard about the condition and she wishes she had been warned about it before the operation.

“I wish I had been given some of the pros and cons, but I wasn’t. If I had been given more information I would have had a contraceptive implant instead.”

Although she was told her depression was related to oia’s adoption, Michelle is adamant it’s related to the operation.

“I was told my depression was caused by giving my baby away,” she says. “But I see oia all the time and I’ve been fine. She comes and stays at our house. I’m normally a very happy person and if I’ve got a problem, I talk. I would never have given my baby up for an official adoption. She was only given up because I wanted them to have a family.”

Michelle says although she used to have a regular menstrual cycle, she now has periods that last three weeks.

“I’ve also had loss of libido and that’s hard for my husband. I have terrible anxiety and I’ve started getting up in the middle of the night to check my kids are breathing. I feel like I’m a bit nutty, but I know I’m not.”

But since her doctor has accepted the diagnosis, she has been referred back to the hospital in the hope the procedure can be reversed.

At this stage Michelle,who wishes she never had the operation in the first place, is praying for a reversal, but she might be facing the prospect of a hysterectomy.

“I want to feel like a 25-year-old again. If I had a hysterectomy, I don’t think it would improve my health. I don’t want to have one at 25, but if it stops the pain then I will probably have to,” says Michelle.

She also wants to warn other women about her medical problems. “It was the most stupid thing I’ve ever done. I’m living a worse life now than I probably would if I had five more children.”

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