“What did your mother think about that?” » Young and childless women hurdles to be sterilized

For as long as she could remember, Mathilde had never wanted a child. But the young lady doesn’t support the pills and IUD badly. This is why she decided, at the age of 27, to learn about contraceptive sterilization by tubal ligation. The operation consists of preventing the spermatozoa from accessing the oocyte either by cutting or agglomerating the fallopian tube, or by attaching clips to it. The young woman met three gynecologists, she received three refusals. He called fifteen other people, always with the same negative answer. However, surgery has been legalized since 2001 for any adult who requests it. It took Mathilde more than seven years to get permanent contraception.

“For four or five years, more and more young women have asked us for contraceptive sterilization,” notes Hervé Fernandez, obstetrician-gynecologist at the Bicêtre hospital, in the Paris region. Among patients who request tubal ligation, 5% are childless. Bertrand de Rochambeau, obstetrician-gynecologist, who is known for his anti-abortion position but routinely performs this operation, even estimates that a third of patients request this operation less than thirty years old. And to clarify: “And a lot of them don’t have kids. »

Doctor’s conscience clause

Legally, there is nothing to prevent young women who are called “nullipara”, meaning childless, from using contraceptive sterilization. The only criterion required: a preliminary interview with a doctor followed by a four-month reflection period. In the end, the patient must see the professional again and provide written consent. The operation can then be performed. “The law allows it so there’s no reason not to practice it,” emphasized Hervé Fernandez.

But in fact, many doctors are against this female contraceptive sterilization. A conscience clause gives them the right to refuse intervention but in this case, they are required to refer the patient to another practitioner who will agree to do so. An underappreciated obligation according to the women we interviewed. Instead, some of them are given moral or life lessons, sometimes with condescension.

Leïla, her first visit to her regular obstetrician, was told “what does your boyfriend think? when he was single. He then entitled “what did your mother think? “. Practitioners even swore to her that no one would practice this on a woman her age. “It’s not legal,” she assures her. “All the gynecologists I’ve contacted tell me I’m too young to make such a decision,” emphasizes Mathilde. Some of them convinced her that she could change her mind if her potential partner wanted kids.”Whether my friends want it or not, I don’t want it!”, she protested.

Risk of regret

If some doctors are so wary of the idea of ​​sterilizing nulliparous women that they ask for it, it’s because they’re afraid they’ll regret it one day. Florence, 32, who took years to undergo surgery, has always been aware of the risks. “But if I regret it, only one person is unhappy: me. Whereas if I had kids and I regretted it, we’d be two unhappy ones. » The age argument did not convince Bertrand de Rochambeau. “Who am I to find these women too young? As long as I’ve explained the consequences to them, if that’s what they want, I do it. »

Listening that Mathilde regrets not having it. “For a gynecologist, I am not in a position to make such a drastic and important decision. I tell them, “I have been looking for a doctor for years to do the surgery.” This is not a fad. I didn’t wake up one morning saying to myself “hey, I’m going to have surgery.” Arguments arise regularly among women who have had their tubes tied or are trying to do so: why does the fact of not wanting children fuel such debates when we never question the fact of having them?

If Hervé Fernandez performed tubal ligation on a young woman who asked for it, he believes some people might regret it one day. So in order not to ruin their chances of getting pregnant in the future, he strictly forbids the doctors at his service from removing their tubes and prefers to clip on the tubes instead. A reversible technique but not without consequences. If the woman changed her mind, they would be removed and the tube cut on both sides. The micro will connect the tube. “In good hands, the success rate is 50%,” estimates Bertrand de Rochambeau. FDI also remains a possible option. “Currently the chances for young women to have children in this way are very high. »

List of exchanged doctors “under the robe”

Florence, who went through a friend to find the doctor who operated on her, spoke very easily of the permanent contraception around her. Women often ask how she can find a doctor who agrees to sterilize her. “Today, we passed contact under the mantle”.

To spare other people the obstacle they find themselves in, the young woman who had her tubes tied decides to help those who wish to do the same. Facebook groups, threads on Twitter, lists of gynecologists practicing surgery, all good ways to help each other. After a bad experience with her gynecologist, Leïla inquires and easily manages to find a doctor who agrees to operate on her without guilt. “I managed to avoid a difficult situation with the doctors,” he rejoices. The proof, therefore, can sometimes be simple.

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