According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), more and more Canadians are using less effective birth control compared to previous decades. In fact, oral contraceptive use in women dropped by almost 25% between 2006 and 2016.
There are a few possible reasons for this, including a lack of communication and education on birth control options. Misinformation, or a lack of information entirely, is somewhat to blame. According to the CMAJ, only 58.8% of women turn to their family doctors for advice on birth control.
The recent backlash against oral contraception and its potential side effects could also play a role, as could the fact that more people are speaking up about the pain associated with their IUD insertion.
This topic is nuanced—what works for some might not work for others, and vice versa. With that said, it’s clear the conversation needs to be elevated and ongoing. Recently, we spoke with someone (who we’ll call Jane) who underwent a bilateral salpingectomy. She shared her story and details about the procedure, the process, and the factors that helped her make this decision.
A salpingectomy is the surgical removal of the fallopian tubes. Fallopian tubes allow eggs to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. It is often performed for ectopic pregnancies (where the egg implants in the fallopian tube, requiring intervention), and as a treatment for cancer. However, it can also be used as permanent contraception.
Jane chose the procedure as a birth control method. Tube removal also comes with the possibility of a decreased risk for ovarian cancer, which was an additional advantage.
She first learned that this was an option when consulting with an OB-GYN. Jane initially believed she would be getting a tubal ligation, which has, in the past, been the standard. Tubal ligation can be reversible, but tube removal is not. The latter is a more permanent solution, which suited Jane’s needs.
“I knew children were never going to be on the table for me,” she says. “It was a very easy decision to make.”
While her partner was willing to get a vasectomy, that procedure would have been expensive. Jane’s surgery was free. She also felt strongly about being in control of her own body and her own choices. She says recent events surrounding abortion in the United States, and the potential for future changes in the availability of abortion, made the decision even easier. “I never wanted to be in a position where I lost control and autonomy over my body,” she says.
Fortunately, doctors were very supportive of Jane’s decision. “From start to finish, I felt very supported by all the doctors involved,” she says. Her family doctor happily referred her to an OB-GYN. No one questioned her reasoning—they simply addressed her concerns and explained her options.
“I felt listened to and respected, which as a woman is often not the case in health care, especially with reproductive decisions.”
Her loved ones were also mostly supportive of her choice. Some friends, particularly those with children, pushed back a little more. “I understand their concern, but sometimes it felt a bit condescending that I couldn’t be trusted to make my own decision,” Jane says, adding that she can still get pregnant with IVF if she ever happened to change her mind.
What most concerned her was the recovery, but it went relatively quickly and smoothly. “The first 48 hours were dedicated to my couch and my heating pad, but I never had to take the strong drugs they sent me home with. Pain was minimal—it was more uncomfortable than anything. I think I was running within eight days and skiing in 10.”
Ultimately, Jane feels great about her decision. “It feels like I’ve gained freedom in all parts of my life. It has been a very empowering decision, and I’m so glad I made it,” she says.
Jane’s story shows us that when people are able to get the medical care and birth control education that they need, their world becomes a safer and more validating place. This should be the standard for everyone, regardless of whether they want children or not.