Post Tubal Ligation Sydrome :: My Story

This is a different kind of post than I have ever shared here on A Bit of Sunshine but I am feeling very compelled to open up about some hidden suffering I’ve had over the past three years because I feel so strongly that if even one women is helped through my story than it is worth it to share. Here it goes. (if you are looking for Ten on Ten scroll to the post below or click HERE)

My eyes are full of tears as I begin this post. Our fertility and hormones, it’s such an intimate topic, those things that us women deal with from month to month to month for most of our lives. I have been so blessed with four gorgeous babies after being told time and time again that I should never have been able to conceive, let alone carry any children, and I’ve spoken to many women with a similar uterine abnormality as mine who have not been as lucky as I have been in that regard. For this I am so grateful.

This part of my story, however, is not about my fertility or childbearing but rather what has happened to me since the birth of my fourth son, Zeb after an emergency c-section (at 35 weeks gestation). I had been on hospital bed rest for several weeks prior to his birth. Many of you super faithful and dear to me readers will remember that crazy season – getting pregnant unexpectedly with number four after our life took the craziest turn and we found ourselves losing almost everything and moving with young children including a still small ten month old baby.

That time was crazy for me and I am sure you all could understand and empathize with that. We hadn’t planned on a fourth child and given my history of unicornuate uterus and high risk for uterine rupture as well as premature births, undergoing yet another cesarian section, my fourth within five years was super terrifying. 

My pregnancy with Zeb was actually really normal despite being tested dozen and dozens of times. At 33 weeks my doctor did an ultrasound and couldn’t see the lining of my uterus clearly and worried that because my uterus is basically shaped weird and only half of it works “normally” she put me on bed rest in the hospital as a precaution and in one fell swoop I was not allowed to even go home for a bag of clothes and a final kiss to my little ones. Everyone was incredibly supportive and jumped in to help and I did my best to patiently wait for our fourth child to arrive and prayed to the Lord it would all be healthy. 

It was at this time in the hospital that Tubal Ligation was presented to me as a requirement. Doctor’s came in, I kid you not, one or two times a day with a waiver and begged me to go through with it because no one wanted to see me pregnant again – after all we were all fearing for my life and the baby in my womb on the off chance that my uterus would rupture before the time of delivery. We hadn’t planned to have four children so of course I listened to the doctors and signed my life away, a decision I have cried over more than any other decision I have ever made in my life.

The night Zeb was born was crazy, they had planned to do the cesarian on the 4th of May 2012 but the night of the 3rd the doctor came in (I think she was looking for something to do, personally) and immediately looked at me and said, “We are not waiting we are getting this baby out tonight.” It was so frustrating because Chris was wrapping up at work, my Mother in Law had my other three’s schedules all worked out…but whatever, no matter how much I begged the doctor just said, no we are doing this tonight. 

The surgery was so routine. This was my fourth c-section and I made sure to be as alert and present as possible I didn’t want to miss anything. They had two surgeons in the room as well as NICU team and tons of my blood on hand (they had been collecting it from me daily for weeks). But the c-section part was really routine. Zeb was born – I heard him cry and found out that he was indeed a boy. 5lbs 10ounces, my tiniest baby with the sweetest cry. They examined my uterus as they always did but this time I could tell all the fuss was kind of for nothing because although my uterus was super thin, I had made it through, my amazing body had yet again defied the odds and carried a gorgeous, healthy baby and I was so proud and happy. I wept the happiest tears for my baby boy! 

Then all at once I felt something really painful – I snapped back into reality and literally hollered out – OUCH – what are you doing, I am feeling that? 

The surgeon said to me that she was doing the Tubal Ligation that I had agreed too and that my spinal block might have been too low to numb that area but it wouldn’t take too long. She showed my husband (proudly) that she had tied, cauterized and cut my fallopian tubes and excised a small portion of each one so no worries for us there would be no more babies. 

That night I was in the most writhing pain I have ever experienced in my life. The doctors and nurses just kept explaining that four c-sections is hard on the body and I would likely be in more pain. OK you guys – I get that for sure, but also I had already had three sections prior to this one and was always able to get out of bed and move around within a few hours. Yes painful but yes manageable – NOTHING LIKE THIS. I sobbed, and sobbed and yelled at Chris. I didn’t want to nurse Zeb I didn’t want to see anyone, I was in so much pain it was insane. I chalked it up to the extreme fatigue of living in a hospital bed and not sleeping for close to two weeks before the birth. But the day after Zeb was born I would not allow one visitor – I was literally in too much pain. 

A few days later when we brought Zeb home my raging mood was also new and totally crazy. I screamed at my husband (this is really embarrassing to admit) for the entire ride home, with four kids five and under buckled up in the backseat. I crawled up to my bed and remember laying there and sobbing for seven hours straight. My best friend got engaged on the same day and called to tell me about it and I had to pull out my big girl pants and squeal with joy (I was SO happy for her) but honestly I was not happy, I was sobbing and miserable and in so much pain and had four children waiting for Mommy to be Mommy. 

The recovery after Zeb was rough, shortly after the surgery the constant headaches started. I have always struggled with migraines related to food allergies but these headaches are much worse and much more frequent and not all controlled by my diet or any sort of supplements I take. I started popping Ibuprofen every four to six hours. I also started dealing with depression – really bad, but that could be totally expected given the circumstances right? I took Zoloft too. 

I stared having crazy night sweats, hot flashes, cold flashes, insomnia, severe lymph pain under my arms and the stabbing pain in my lower abdomen pretty much immediately and constantly, it was not getting better each day as it had with the first three births. My period returned six weeks after having a five week preemie and was heavier than anything I had ever experienced, and when I went to my six week post op I mentioned it all to the nurse as she was checking me in and questioned her about my Tubal Ligation having something to do with it. She leaned in and told me that she had hers tied and no one warned her beforehand what it could do to your body, she had never been the same.


My doctor came in and I immediately question her, she totally brushed me off and said that the stabbing pain and headaches and heavy bleeding was nothing to worry about. Afteralll I had had my fourth c-section, of course you’re going to have more scar tissue and pain, you aren’t sleeping, headaches and depression are par for the course and there are no side affects from Tubal Ligation…she than went on to tell me (before examining me) that there is no way my period had started already it was probably just still after birth bleeding. After examining me and blood ran all over the floor she admitted she was mistaken and that I had indeed started my period again. Oddly I felt stupid for knowing my body better than she did. But I did.

So that was all about three years ago – since that time you would think that most of these symptoms would have cleared up and I would have bounced back to a pretty normal, albeit wild and full, life but I am here to share that they have not gotten better and that most of them have gotten worse. 

For the past three years I have had constant debilitating headaches nearly every day, I have regular, severe stabbing pain in my abdomen. This pain increases during ovulation and my menstral cycle to an intensity that often leaves me writhing in pain in bed. I have a nagging pain on my left side and back that I have presented to doctor after doctor, but no one seems to be able to help. My periods are very heavy, clotting and multiple days throughout my cycle I get up in the night and have to change clothes because of the bleeding. The depression has increased in severity and the mood swings and PMS are other worldly. I have also suffered from severe thoughts of suicide, something that I really hadn’t experienced as much with depression before the TL but sometimes as much as 30 times a day I have horrible thoughts of suicide and anxiety. The hot flashes and insomnia have increased. I’ve not been able to lose twenty plus pounds of “baby weight” that I never struggled to lose the other three times. And these are just the tip of the iceberg. I often feel like I am actually dying. I don’t want to hang out with friends, I’m miserable. I have crushing fatigue and often go to bed right after the kids but never sleep well. 

I had done research shortly after Zeb’s birth about what can happen after a Tubal Ligation but honestly I kind of had to be careful not to read too much because the damage was done and the whole thing was way too depressing to read. 

Recently, though, I was sitting, and sobbing once again to my husband about all the pain and the headaches and the crushing depression and he gently said,”Can we get it reversed?”

It was the first time in three years that I felt someone truly heard me and I experienced a tiny spark of hope. I’d never looked into it but this question set a fire under me and I started researching heavily. I’ve discovered that I am not actually crazy, as the doctors would have me believe, but that I have been suffering from Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome for the past three years. There is a very controversial debate occurring on this in the medical field, and most doctors will not admit that it exists… how could it not?

There are hundreds of sites that list the same batch of symptoms, and out of the 45 I have 37. There are studies that conclude about 50% of women will have symptoms of PTLS after a Tubal Ligation. FIFTY PERCENT. And most of them have a hysterectomy within five to ten years because of all the pain. There is also a significantly increased chance of developing a hormonal form of cancer. (full list of PTLS symptoms HERE)

You guys, I am 35 – this is not acceptable. Why are doctors not studying the side effects of tubal ligation? This is a women’s rights issue if you ask me, and this is why I have chosen to speak out. 

I believe there are women just like myself suffering in silence and don’t even know what to call all of this crazy hell that they have found themselves in. When you have a Tubal Ligation you are cutting off the blood flow to the ovaries (a major hormone hub) which eventually causes them to atrophy and die. PTLS is the result of a rapid decline of estrogen/progesterone levels caused by blood supply being damaged to the ovaries, also called isolated ovarian syndrome or hormone shock. I’m in pre-menopause as I write this and have been offered a hysterectomy. 

I have discovered that you can have your tubes reversed. It’s called a Tubal Reversal and lots of women choose to do them if they change their mind about wanting another baby for fertility reasons. Additionally, there is a whole community of women desperate to have one done in order to reverse the effects of what PTLS has done to them. Insurance does not cover this procedure or even recognize the syndrome as real, but they do pay for hysterectomies! This leads us to the high cases of women opting for that surgery instead. One scary thought – the medical industry makes money on women who get tubals and then end up needing a hysterectomy. I’m serious. It’s sick and wrong. 

There are some clinics who will do Tubal Reversals for women with PTLS, nothing is a for sure thing, but when there are no other reasons for the symptoms you can feel pretty confident of what you’ve known all along and restoring the blood flow to the ovaries will hopefully ease the incredibly awful symptoms. I’ve read countless numbers of testimonies of women who have been helped by having their tubal reversed. 

I wish I could sit here and tell you I’ve had the Tubal Reversal and I am healed – but that’s not yet the case. There is a clinic in Chapel Hill that I am looking into, but the surgery is $6,400 and Chris and I would need to fly to NC for a few days together as well. I am fervently praying that the Lord will swiftly provide all that we need to get this thing reversed because I will always, for the rest of my life, wonder if this procedure would’ve helped if I don’t give it a try. 

God has always provided for us. After my husband had a total hip replacement this past December, we’ve started to see the miraculous nature of a healed body.. I am hoping and believing in full healing from these awful symptoms, and not by way of a hysterectomy, which would unleash a new host of problems for someone my age.

While I wait anxiously – I am compelled to share my story. I believe all women deserve the right to make an educated decision on Tubal Ligation. Some women really don’t have any adverse symptoms but thousands of us do. I believe there are thousands who haven’t even realized that’s whats going on. I can’t responsibly keep this information to myself any longer. 

If you are a women who is considering a Tubal Ligation I am begging you do some research. I wish I had spent even ten minutes during my bed rest to do some digging… I would have questioned the doctors almost requiring it of me and might have never had it done. If you are a women who has had adverse side affects from a TL I would love to hear your story, you can email me directly or leave a comment. 

Right now I am taking lots of natural supplements to help regulate my hormones and I have recently chosen a vegan/soy free diet to help rid my body of any further hormones and to help ease the symptoms. I still do rely on Ibuprofen pretty constantly but I am doing my best to manage what I can in the mean time…working through the deep emotional pain of feeling deceived and angry about my choice is a daily process too, I will keep you all updated I promise!

Thank you guys for reading my story – I would love prayers and support as we pray for God to make a way to fix what was done to me and I would love for you to share my story with anyone  you think it might help, I am always here to talk about this, my life and my families life is forever changed by Tubal Ligation and I will forever be advocating for women on this issue! xoxo

*UPDATE: Since posting this I have had the most incredible outpouring of love and support from so many. My dear friend, Andi has lovingly started a Go Fund Me – to help raise the money I need for the tubal reversal! HERE is the site…thank you all so much for your kindness, love, support and prayers it means so much!

Read more about Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome HERE
I found this podcast really interesting too for those who want to dig deeper HERE
all photos taken by my incredibly talented friend, Stacy Bostom

  • Lindsey - Oh Rebekah,
    first off, I am so, so very sorry that you are going through this. its bad enough when things happen from our own wear and tear on our bodies, but to feel betrayed in such a way, its horrible. i am so very proud of you for being so BRAVE, for funneling your thoughts and sharing your story. I have know doubt that God is going to use it. pain is such a horrible, isolating thing and living with it can be so lonely. just by you speaking up, i know so many woman will breathe a collective sigh of relief as they realize that they are not alone. i have dealt with my own (totally different and not as severe) type of pain and through the years have come to be in awe of that in which God has created. the human body is and incredible thing, with an ability like nothing else, to self heal. i am praying for you. that God will heal you fully and completely, that He will provide for you to have the surgery, and that He will bless and lead you as you continue to give a voice to this. i am so proud of you. may God shine His mercy, grace and healing upon you. xo lindseyReplyCancel

    • Rebekah - Oh Lindsey thank you so much for your words, they bring such strength and courage to my heart! I am so sorry you know similar suffering it often makes me feel absolutely crazy and full of shame, like I should be able to fix myself…but God lead me to these answers and I am believing that He wants to use my story to fuel other women to dig deeper and I am believing someway somehow the money will come. I actually finally feel hope – praying for you too that you would feel those same strong arms of Jesus love and hope! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Emily Peck - Oh Rebekah, I love you. You are so brave for sharing your story! I am so sorry you’ve been having to go through this but you’ve done a really good thing by getting the word out. You are such a strong person and you deserve nothing more than to feel great everyday. I can only hope and pray that you will get what you need to improve this situation so you can care for your four littles and husband in the way you wish you could. Big giant hugs to you and your family and I am always here if you need ANYTHING! <3 <3 <3ReplyCancel

    • Rebekah - Emily, I love you too – thank you so so much – your words are balm to my heart! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Mommy Girl - Thank you for sharing your truth. You are brave and I know God gave you the courage to be vulnerable because there is a woman who needs to hear your story. May God’s healing be upon you.ReplyCancel

  • Leanne Barnett - What a terrible thing. Thank you for sharing your story, hoping that you’re able to get what you need. xReplyCancel

  • Jordan - I will be praying and praying that you are able to fund this reversal quickly, and for complete healing for your poor body. I had 3 children by C-section, and was saved from a TL because of two friends that have PTLS and BEGGED me not to. So thankful for them, and for your bravery in sharing your story. <3ReplyCancel

  • alishiahanson - This sounds awful! I’m so sorry. I respect doctors but I think there’s lot of fear involved with their information sharing, too. I’ve had six c/s and I had ovarian cancer and kept my ovary!! that was eight years ago and I’ve had four kids since then and remained cancer free. Thank God. I just want to mention another resource:
    They deal with many aspects of women’s health and fertility. And despite the name, you needn’t be Catholic. Prayers for you in this struggle. It can be scary. God has a plan for you in it all–even amidst all the suffering–He knows suffering intimately and loves you deeply. God blessings and peace be with you!!
    PS: your smile and joy are a testament to the Lord being your strength in all this.

  • katie - Oh Rebekah thank you for your courage and vulnerability in sharing this. As I read your story I am filled with anger on your behalf. That a trusted medical professional would counsel you toward that surgery without informing you of the risks is incredibly abusive. I am so so sorry for what you have endured and will pray with you for healing… and for provision for the reversal if that is what that healing looks like. Our God is a God of healing and of peace and I believe he wants both for you. Please keep speaking out- you are clearly not the only woman dealing with this pain and your (their) story needs to be heard!!! Much love.ReplyCancel

  • katie - ps do you mind if I share your post with a group of birth professionals in the puget sound? if anyone needs to be aware of this it’s people in this profession who counsel and care for childbearing women.ReplyCancel

  • Shay Frederickson - Rebekah-

    What a warrior you are! You are so brave for sharing your story. God is so good and through all this pain and suffering, you will find beauty in the ashes. He will provide for you and meet all your needs- just as He always has, as you said. When I battled cancer, I was amazed to see God’s hand working through all of the horrific moments. Your story I’m sure has already helped hundreds of women and your honesty is enviable! I’m praying for you as you walk through this journey, please keep us posted. And good for you for backing off the ibuprofen- I got a bleeding ulcer from that stuff last year and it was terrible. That’s the last thing you need! Take care and I’m praying!ReplyCancel

  • gwen - Oh Sweet Rebekah,
    thank you so much for sharing and enlightening me to such things. ill be keeping you and your sweet family in prayer. you’re faith and outlook is inspiring. so encouraged by your strength to share the journey The Lord has you on.ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - My name-sharing-sister, thank you for making yourself so vulnerable in this space. My heart breaks for the pain you are experiencing. I seriously considered a TL after my Olivia was born, but in the end I was, honestly, too scared to go through with it. I did read some about PTLS at that time, and was shocked. I agree that the medical community is doing great harm by not being more communicative about the potential problems that can result from TL. I will pray faithfully for your physical and emotional healing.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay - I shared this on my Facebook about an hour ago and already, three women have thanked me for sharing, saying they had no idea and would now not consider a tubal ligation! Thank you so much for putting your painful story out there. You are going to help so many women by your honesty!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ Life on the Parsons Farm - Rebekah, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for you sharing your story!!! As an infertility fighter and sufferer of two ectopic pregnancies (in the same tube) this has been a topic my doctor presents to me at each appointment, saying that I have a 70% likelihood of getting another ectopic pregnancy. I have seriously thought about going through with the surgery but the thought of never having my own biological children and giving away the chance to conceive “naturally” is so hard for me to agree to. I never knew that There could be any side affects like you’ve stated and now I’m glad I haven’t gone through with the surgery. I already suffer from migraines and other aches and pains that I couldn’t imagine what you are going through. Now I feel educated and know how to address the situation with my doctor next time she brings it up.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.ReplyCancel

  • Jenntage - I’ve been following you for a few years… Totally get it! I had roller ball surgery right after we got home from Uganda with our 2 adopted kids. That means we had 3 three year olds and a 6 yr old- 2 needy needy africican orphans turned into my children. My body went through a bloody mess one day and I thought that was my only option. I was scared to get pregnant with now having triplets and I needed my body fixed. I went through the same emotions for the past few years- (but luckily no pain)… So I totally get it! Praying for you!!! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Joanna Roddy - So brave, Rebekah. Your story is heart wrenching. I am believing for you in all the provision you need. Can someone start a gofundme for you? Wouldn’t hurt to put it out there.

    (P.S. I left an earlier comment but it didn’t seem to go through. Sorry if this double posts!)ReplyCancel

  • Christy from fountains of home - I am so sorry Rebekah. This all sounds like such a terrible suffering for you to go through. It’s really horrible to think of how little respect some doctors have for women’s health and fertility. These are serious things and all the information should be provided to every woman. I will keep you in my prayers for your healing, I really hope you can get that reversal soon!ReplyCancel

  • glimmersnaps - What an incredible story. I’ve been reading your blog for years and it just breaks my heart that you are going through this. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s a shame that women don’t have safer options for birth control. There’s so much that hasn’t been fully researched and yet we are just given the choice between bad and worse and told that the side effects don’t exist. Can you imagine how many cases of PTLS are misdiagnosed as Post Partum Depression?

    Have you tried acupuncture at all? I’ve used it for a long time and there’s a lot it can help, especially with reproductive issues. It might be something to explore if you haven’t already!

  • Marla - Thank you for sharing. I am currently pregnant with our 4th…and this will be also be my 4th c-section…and I was just going to go ahead with a tubal ligation and not do any research at all just because i thought it was the thing to do! Thank you so very much for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Kyle and HK Foss Family - Rebekah, my heart just sunk. I always have special memories of us, taking our kiddos to preschool at the same time and barely making it. You amaze me. You have the brightest smile. The kindest voice. You have a story to share, please keep telling it.ReplyCancel

  • go team love! - sweet Rebekah… you’re so brave to share your story! we are praying for an all out miracle and would love to help with your surgery/travel fund. please start a go fund me account and post it so folks can chip in! if everyone who loves and believes in you and your family gave $25, you’d be there in NC in no time… you’ve blessed so many lives in so many ways, it’s a good thing to let us bless you back.ReplyCancel

  • *Jess* - I am so incredibly sorry that you have been suffering in silence for three years with no answers. I hope you can get treated asap in ncReplyCancel

  • Kate Eschbach - Oh my dearest Rebekah, I am so, so sorry. I will be lifting you up in prayer and asking for healing, finances provided, rest, and a swift end to the terrible depression. You are so very loved.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly Kurkinen - Thank you so much for sharing this, Rebekah. I know it takes so much courage to be so brave, but you are blessing women whom you will never know you’ve reached.

    I’m a labor and delivery nurse (who also has gynecologic patients with hysterectomies) and I have not heard of this syndrome but I am so thankful I have now! I appreciate your open heart in the midst of your pain.

    It is not my understanding that as a hospital or providers there is any kick-back for tubals and subsequent hysterectomies, but that may just be due to the differences in providers/ states/ facilities.

    Again I thank you so much for sharing. For my patients’ sake I will absolutely look into this. I will speak with others I work with in regards to this as well!

    You’re a treasure and I pray for full healing for you, and funding for this reversal.ReplyCancel

  • Brandi - I am so sorry for your pain and struggles. I have also considered the procedure (TL), and I appreciate you sharing your story so that I (and many others) can know these risks! It is so unfortunate that medical professionals will simply push something on you without really going through the process thoroughly. We are dealing with some health issues for one of our children and it is the same–unbelievable how doctors will give you half the story based on their bias! And even worse when you start getting second opinions. My head is spinning. I hope and pray you get the healing you need!ReplyCancel

  • *laura* - Thank you for being so BRAVE and sharing your story. I’m certain God will use it for good. I have suffered with chronic pain most of my life and while it is not the same as what you are going through I know how emotionally depressing, isolating and lonely it can be. Not to mention the difficulty of the pain itself. Praying for your total healing and God’s strength as you pass through each step in the process. Hugs to you sweet Rebekah. *laura*ReplyCancel

  • Amy - I found your blog when you were doing Dinner at 8 and I believe it was just before Zeb was born, I was due with my 3rd about the same time…I am so sorry for your suffering and so thankful for your post about it!! I will be praying God will make a way for you to get the reversal and that you will heal well and that in the meantime He will lead you through the darkness and hold you up. God bless you Rebekah!!!ReplyCancel

  • Priscilla - Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog
    and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Wolfe - Somehow I ended up stumbling upon your (beautiful) jewelry site and then your blog and then this post. If I wasn’t surrounded by rowdy little boys right now I’d probably be crying. I don’t know if you remember me… I was in your small group at Hope Spoken. I can’t begin to know how you feel, but I will pray for you when I think of your sweet smile. And maybe I just need to order a necklace so I can remember to think and pray for you.. :) I’m going to go and read the continuation of this story now.ReplyCancel

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