Goodbye, Birth Control.
Six months before my wedding, I went to the doctor to get a prescription for birth control. Having set boundaries with myself and those whom I dated in the past, the necessity of hormonal prophylaxis was never something on my horizon until my wedding night; however, since I quickly developed mild anaphylactic reactions to something as simple as a change in laundry detergent, I decided giving myself half a year to become acclimated to whatever effect birth control would have.
Life on birth control is, as my husband aptly described, like going from a three-dimensional being down to two-dimensional (maybe even one, depending on the day). My drive, interests, hobbies, passion… almost every aspect of my life was subdued or muted entirely. What should have been a joyous time of desire and passion in the early days of our marriage turned into self-loathing, frustration and confusion. Thinking hormonal birth control wouldn’t affect me all that much, I assumed this is what marriage was like; that regardless of how sweetly or patiently my husband pursued me, I still felt overwhelmed. He never approached me in anything but gentleness and love, but inside my desire for him was numbed. When he would kindly say that he loved me and loved my body, it made me feel unclean or not good enough. He stood beside me and loved me just the same, even when I would impatiently and endlessly reject his advances.
I’d love to say this is the part where I went back to my doctor and quickly got off birth control within a month, but it isn’t. Instead, I elected to remain on various forms of hormonal birth control for four and a half years. I suffered significant physical side effects to any form of hormonal birth control my doctor had me try. Thankfully, my husband persevered and remained as sweet and gentle as ever, even during droughts that stretched on for months at a time.
In January of 2018, I made the decision to go speak to a gynecologist about undergoing an elective sterilization procedure. I was 27 years old.
As many new chapters often start in my life, this one began with a vivid dream. Though I typically sleep like the dead without ever hearing my husband snoring next to me, I had a dream that was so intense it felt like someone was speaking 1 inch from my face; I distinctly remember the words,
“Go see the doctor.”
I started awake at 2:32AM, looking around the room to see who the hell said those words that were so jarring. My heart pounded in my ears as I lay there, wondering if such a procedure was even attainable without having had children. The next day, I called the doctor and made an appointment to meet with my gynecologist the next week. Fully expecting to be shot down immediately for even thinking this was a possibility at the young age of 27, I went anyway. It couldn’t hurt to at least ask. My husband respected my curiosity, and recognized that this was ultimately my decision; he promised to support me in whatever I chose to do for my body.
My new healthcare provider was tall, thin and well put-together. Beginning with routine questions, she asked why I was having this appointment. Expecting the worst, I blurted out “I’m really just here because I would like a bilateral salpingectomy.” After asking me twice if I was absolutely sure I never wanted children, she said she’d gladly do my surgery for me.
Stymied, I sat there for a moment as she quietly waited for me to formulate questions. “I… kind of expected an argument to ensue,” I admitted to her.
“Well,” she said patiently, “you’re young, but if you’re absolutely sure you never want to have babies of your own, then I’m happy to do it for you. Our choice to reproduce is all ours individually and just that: a choice. I’ll do whatever I can to make that possible for everyone.”
After thanking her and discussing a few more details, I left the office in a haze; It was confusing to prepare for war, and instead be met with a simple solution to a problem that has plagued me for the last 5 years. Within two days, I had a surgery date scheduled for three weeks later.
Before we knew it, my surgery date was upon us. My husband drove me to the women’s hospital and offered moral support and humor throughout. Surgery went smoothly and recovery went without complication. In the span of two weeks, my previously absent libido came back with extreme full force, and I found myself impatient at the 6-week limitation on sexual activities post-surgery. My husband was overjoyed (as you might expect), and in the year post-surgery we have become so much closer, both physically and emotionally, than ever before.
The invasive ways birth control can overwhelm you are unmistakable. Not only was my marriage directly affected, but my self esteem also suffered significantly. In the four years of keeping myself on birth control, I never went to the hair salon, had any routine beauty-treatments done, bought new clothes, or even thought twice about what I ate versus taking care of myself. Having no motivation to better myself, I just assumed this is how I would feel about myself from now on; as soon as I got off birth control, however, the weight started practically falling off. I lost 30 pounds six months after my surgery, and for the first time in nearly five years I actively tried to lose more. I also realized how important it is to regularly have my hair cut, colored and styled professionally, and to buy myself well-fitted apparel. These actions alone have boosted my self-esteem remarkably; the benefits of increased self-love and self-worth have been astounding.
Female sterilization is a drastic step. It completely eradicates the potential of you ever physically bearing your own children. I now equate living on birth control to being both dead and alive at the same time; nothing was discernible, and everything was gray. Becoming sterilized has been a breath of fresh air for the first time in five years, has given me my life back, and allowed me to live it worry-free.