Thursday, October 09, 2008

Why I, like hundreds of other young women, chose to be sterilised at the age of 21

Eight years on, the politics PhD student from London is adamant she has never suffered a moment's regret.

'It's difficult to pinpoint the moment I realised I never, ever wanted children of my own, because it's something I've always known,' says Jacquelyn, 29, who lives with her boyfriend of four years, David, 29, an advertising account manager for Microsoft.

'It wasn't a case of waking up one morning and thinking: "I don't want children, I'm going to be sterilised." I just knew.

'Even as a little girl, I was never interested in dolls or playing mums and dads in the playground. I was happier with a set of Lego bricks.

'A couple of my friends have children, but on the whole I'm not too fond of them. I'm not very good at playing with them or giving cuddles, so I tend to keep my distance.

'I also think that growing up as an only child may have exacerbated my desire not to have babies - I was very independent even as a youngster and wasn't used to being around other children.

'I don't feel any less womanly because I'm sterile, either. Femininity is about much more than being able to bear children, it's to do with your whole sense of identity and I've always been very clear about who I am and what I want.
. . .
What's intriguing about her story is that Jacquelyn is an intelligent woman who had thought deeply about her choice and was still resolved to see it through - even if she was at an age when most women are more concerned with what they wear than whether they might want children now or in the future.
. . .
Lengthy research showed Jacquelyn there were two choices; either take a chance with a sympathetic GP to get a referral (the NHS is reluctant to perform sterilisations on women under 30 who don't already have children), or go private and pay £500 to have the operation at a Marie Stopes clinic, the UK's leading provider of sexual and reproductive health services.

Sensing that at just 21 she would be greeted with dismay by the NHS, which performs around 40,000 female sterilisations every year, the majority on women who already have children, she bypassed her GP and went to Marie Stopes in Brixton, South London, in October 2000.

'I was still prepared for an interrogation because of my age and the doctor's first words were: "You're very young. Do you understand what sterilisation is and the implications it would have on your life?"

'But after a 30-minute conversation, she realised I had made an informed choice. I made an appointment to be sterilised a month later.' . . .

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Allyson said...

I'm 24 and keep getting "you're too young" from doctors. wtf.

I just had a Mirena inserted . . . 5 years of birth control! Hopefully, when it's time to take it out in 5 years, my doctor will realize I'm serious.

Anonymous said...

I'm like the person in the article - it wasn't a conscious choice to be CF; having children wasn't anything I was ever interested in, EVER. Not as a child, not as a teen, not now that I'm an adult. Even now, in my 30's, doctors don't take me seriously. When will they? After menopause?

I find there are a number of women who never had that mommy mentality and I think it would make an interesting DNA study. Is there something in our genetic makeup that makes us disinclined to want children? I sincerely wonder, especially since it doesn't seem to have ever been a choice.

Anonymous said...

It might be in the genes. I never wanted kids, I'm fairly certain my brother doesn't want kids, my cousin never wanted kids, and I have an an aunt (blood related) who never wanted kids. Also, I come from a rather small family (as you can imagine), and it seems that those who do want kids have 1-3, tops.

Anonymous said...

This can be the next update:

Anonymous said...

I, like allyson, am 24 and keep getting the "you're too young" type of stuff. I'm scheduled to get the mirena next month which I guess is the next best thing. I hope after the 5 years they'll let me get permanently steralized. I am a little nervous about side effects from the mirena but unfortunately its something I'm going to have to deal with due to my age.

Allyson said...

Hi Muffin-

I know that everyone has different experiences with IUDs, but I've had a great experience with Mirena so far. I had intense cramping the day of the insertion, but the next day I felt fine. In fact, I feel better now that I did when I was on the Pill! I have had 0 side effects, whereas I was having side effects with the Pill.

Like I said, everyone's experience is different. But the side effects are definitely nonexistent compared to the pill.

Anyway, I'm rambling . . . I think my email address is in my google profile, so feel free to contact me if you have other questions/concerns.

Kelsey said...

What amazes me is that I had enough difficulty even finding a doctor who would give me an IUD! I'm 25, and that's not even remotely permanent!

- Driftingfocus

Kelsey said...

Anonymous -

I have also wondered if it is a genetic thing. My parents had only me, and I only have 3 cousins between my 3 aunts/uncles, when combining both sides. My parents have never questioned my claim that I don't want kids, and so I wonder if there is, as you said, a DNA basis for a lack of "mommy mentality".

- Driftingfocus