Beware of the Internet

by Heligirl on February 16, 2010

in Daily Ramblings

The Internet is a great place to learn all kinds of things, get answers to your most pressing questions, get great ideas, make friends, lose yourself and be entertained. But it can also be a nasty, praying, wicked thing that can take you down like a lioness does a lame wildebeest. Sometimes it isn’t so easy to avoid the evil.

I’ve been having chats with some mommy pals of mine online, who I met on a website when we were all pregnant in 2007. The topic turned to birth control and what each of us was doing now that many of us have decided we might be done having kids. I decided to get a tubal ligation during my c-section with Mr. Man. My poor body, which has been through several surgeries thanks to being born with hip dysplasia and clubbed feet myself, took a real beating with two pregnancies and I felt pretty confident my hips and feet wouldn’t make it through another one without some permanent damage. I had two healthy children, one of each sex. I was more than blessed so I elected to go ahead and have the tubal after talking to my three doctors and researching reputable medical websites. I knew I couldn’t deal with the moral dilemma if I ended up getting pregnant again and didn’t want to take any more hormones through the pill. While a piece of me is a little bummed that there will be no more babies, the consequences of another pregnancy are much worse.

However, in our discussions, a couple of my pals started talking about how they’d never have a tubal due to the complications. I started to worry. What complications? All the medical sites I’d researched, as well as my doctors, told me of no complications beyond the usual surgery, possible infection, maybe odd bleeding for a bit. As the discussion got more heated I really got worried and started to research this thing I’d never heard of until my friend brought it up – “post tubal ligation syndrome.” I found several sites that looked suspiciously like individual blogs and lawyer sponsored sites (all with more ads than content) meant to scare the living bejesus out of you.

Well, it worked. I had myself good and freaked out that my ovaries were now going to shrivel up and die and I’d be forced into menopause at the age of 38 while simultaneously suffering debilitating cramps, bleeding 3 quarts of blood each period, and mood swings that make the worst cases of PMS look like child’s play. I got myself so worked up I called the doctor who did my procedure, the whole time fighting to hold back the terrible “what have I done?” feeling.

Thankfully, his nurse called me right back and talked to me about my procedure. She had never heard of this syndrome and took notes of the symptoms I described: blood supply to ovaries being limited, ovaries failing, excess bleeding, mood swings, etc. I told her I had no symptoms, but just wanted to know more. To her credit she took excellent notes and went to my doctor to have him call me. When he called he started out by telling me the type of procedure I had by name, then described how it was done. He said the blood vessels feeding the ovaries were never touched. In fact, the ovaries are fed by a completely different set of vessels than the uterus and those vessels don’t run through the fallopian tubes.  He said he’s done full hysterectomies where the ovaries stayed and they functioned normally for the rest of their natural time. Then he mentioned the fact that I was having regular cycles again, no pain, and no bleeding between cycles, which told him it went just fine and all was well. He said in his many years, as well as those of his partners, of gynecology, delivering babies, and performing these procedures, he’s never seen a single ovary suffer, or any other complication such as described on these sites, that were caused by the procedure.

Now, he said, these are things women suffer, but they happen whether you do or don’t have the procedure (as evidenced by the number of women that have these symptoms who’ve never had a tubal). Thankfully he didn’t make me feel like an idiot for wanting to check this all out. He reiterated that I don’t have a history of mood swings, bleeding, or heavy cramps and the fact that my cycles have started again and I’ve not seen any differences from before.

This isn’t to say some women don’t see differences, but I’m inclined to believe after having children, your body changes and some of these things can come on, regardless of what you do to your tubes. Also, there are botched jobs out there. And many women were on birth control pills before the procedure and would have no idea how their body would have responded once they went off the pill. There are just too many variables, it seems. My heart goes out to those women who suffer these things, for sure. I wish it was definitive why they did. It would seriously be so much easier for everyone to know the elusive “why.”

As far as my scare, it just goes to show it pays to do your research on all sides. You can find anything you want on the Internet. The trick these days is being able to sift the fact from the crap. And the worst is the crap that is written to make you feel bad, such as this little nugget I found that said “anyone suggesting these symptoms came from anywhere other than from having a tubal is only trying to rationalize their decision and convince others they made the right one.” Right. I’ll rationalize away the fact that I had a tubal and no bad side effects. Whatever.

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