The Daily Telegraph

Doctors refuse to sterilise me as they think I’m too young

Lottie Gloss asks why the NHS won’t perform the ‘ultimate’ contracept­ion on twentysome­things like her


Most women in a battle with fertility are desperatel­y clutching at the chance to have a baby. My struggle, however, is not rooted in a deep, maternal desire to create and nurture life. I have no wish to spend nine months watching my body morph out of shape and for my hormones to wreak havoc on my mood. I don’t want to be responsibl­e for another life beyond my own and, in all honesty, I don’t think I’d be very good at it.

My fight is probably better described as an unfertilit­y battle, as I’ve spent the past seven years trying to convince doctors to do one thing: I just want my tubes tied.

I remember the first time I held a baby. It was weird, uncomforta­ble and I felt a little bit repulsed. I’ve never been good with kids, and generally have little interest in hanging out with them. When my friends have babies, I feel nothing, and the thought of becoming an auntie to my brother’s future offspring is daunting as hell.

I realised early in life – around the age of 18 – that I didn’t want my own kids, and the first time I ever brought it up was with my GP. I was around 23 at the time and had been suffering ill effects from a Mirena coil (a contracept­ive intrauteri­ne device) that my doctor had insisted would be a game-changer. It was supposed to be the solution to eight years of searching for a medical contracept­ive that wouldn’t impinge on my everyday life.

I’d tried all the pills under the sun, some of which made me fat while others made me sad. One even gave me contractio­ns after sex and made it impossible to sit with the lights on in the evening because the headaches were so intense. I’d spent a year having contracept­ive injections that meant I experience­d a 12-month period, and I’d endured a pregnancy scare due to a broken condom. I was very much at the end of my tether.

After removing the offending IUD, we sat down to talk next steps. “There’s another coil you can try,” she began, but I cut her off. “Can’t we just tie my tubes?” I asked. No, she said. That’s not a procedure that’s available to me. “You’re too young.” I was livid.

That I apparently can’t be trusted to make such decisions for myself, and that a stranger who has known me for five minutes will make such assumption­s about me, feels unfair.

At the age of 16, we can choose to have sex. Should I get pregnant, I can choose to end the life of the child growing inside me. But, at the age of 28, as I am now, I cannot choose never to bear children.

I have since seen several GPS at various practices, and all bar one have rejected my request outright. It’s the

When the GP heard what I wanted, she practicall­y laughed me out of the room

same old story: “You might change your mind.” The kind of thing your mother told you when you were 18 and thinking about getting a tacky tattoo.

The only person to entertain the idea was a kind, young male GP in Croydon. I opened with “I know it’s a long shot but…”, and his immediate response was music to my ears. “I don’t see why not,” he said. “It’s your body.” Finally, someone who got it. I left elated, and rang my partner to tell him the good news.

I called the surgery the following week to make an appointmen­t so the doctor could get me a referral. Oh, the surgery told me, he’s left. I’d have to see someone else. This time, it was a woman, probably in her mid-40s. I explained the situation tentativel­y, but as soon as she heard the words “tubes tied”, she practicall­y laughed me out of the room.

“No chance,” she said. “No consultant would touch you.” She refused even to write me a referral, and so I left in tears and haven’t seen a doctor since. I’m now stuck with a copper IUD inside me and endure monthly agonising period pains, for which I have to take arthritis medication to be able to function without vomiting.

What’s wrong with normal contracept­ion, you ask? Plenty. Aside from unsavoury side effects of the various pills, implants and coils, and the links to diseases like breast cancer, it’s just ridiculous and a waste of NHS resources to keep going like this. Condoms don’t cut the mustard when you’re in a long-term relationsh­ip, and a male alternativ­e to the pill is still years off.

To me, the idea of never having to take another pill, or to check for the strings of my IUD, is bliss. I love being a woman, but being a woman with a working womb makes me miserable. I’m one year away from the arbitrary age the NHS deems it appropriat­e for a woman to be sterilised and so, if I can muster the strength to argue, I might try again next year. Oh, and what if I change my mind? There’s always adoption.

 ??  ?? Baby, I’m happy: Lottie Gloss and her dog Milo in the Oxfordshir­e countrysid­e
Baby, I’m happy: Lottie Gloss and her dog Milo in the Oxfordshir­e countrysid­e

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