Is It Right That Women in Their 20s Are Being Sterilised?

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FOR most young women, the idea of being sterilised is unthinkable. But last year, 400 childless women in their 20s were sterilised on the NHS.

Two years ago, Kerry-Ann Hunt, 27, an area sales manager for a health company who lives in Slip End, Bedfordshire, had the operation for which she'd always longed. Here, she explains why . . .

THE decision not to have children was simple for me. I view it like this: the Taj Mahal is a beautiful building, but you don't want it in your back garden, do you?

I don't hate children. I just find it difficult to tolerate their lack of intelligence, the noise they make, their inconsiderate behaviour, the burden and pressure they place on your life . . .

The list goes on.

I obviously take after my mother. She absolutely hated children. If she had her time again, she wouldn't have had me.

I'm an only child and, according to my father, was more or less the result of a toss of a coin. After getting a huge pay rise, he turned to my mum and said: 'What's it to be - a penthouse or a kid?' Because there was a lot of pressure from their families, who were nagging them about why they hadn't started a family after four years of marriage, they decided they'd better have me.

My mother is the first to admit that she never wanted me. The way she treated me is a common joke between us. I was always being palmed off on our neighbour who, fortunately for me, loved looking after me.

When I was two, we moved to Luton. I was introverted as a child. I hated playing with other children and would spend hours shut up in my bedroom.

Interestingly, I hated rag dolls.

I had my first serious boyfriend when I was 17. My father made me go on the Pill as he was paranoid that I'd get

pregnant. He needn't have worried - there was no way I was going to get caught out. The thought of getting pregnant appalled me.

I just couldn't imagine myself as a mother. Nor, for that matter, getting married. I was ambitious and children would obviously get in the way of my career.

I just couldn't understand my girlfriends, who'd talk about settling down and fantasise about how many children they were going to have and what they'd call them. I started to think I was abnormal. Why was I so different to every other woman I knew?

Why was I so anti-children?

BOYFRIENDS found my attitude problematic. In fact, it caused the break-up of at least two serious relationships.

Both men were put off by my attitude towards settling down.

They kept telling me that I'd change my mind, which I found really condescending. Just because they wanted all the trappings - the nice house, the car and a family - didn't mean I necessarily did.

I first seriously thought about sterilisation when I was 23. I hated being on the Pill because I put on weight, I was always moody and I never wanted to have sex. And I didn't see any need to be on it sterilisation was the obvious answer.

I mentioned it to my mum one day and she said: 'Fine. Good idea - go ahead and do it.' I went to

see my doctor and, predictably, was dissuaded. I could have had the operation privately, but couldn't afford it.

When I was 25, I was referred to gynaecologist to have a lapros-copy - an examination - of painful cyst on my left ovary. To my surprise, he told me that my GP had written in my notes that wanted to be sterilised. Did I still want to go ahead and have it done, he asked.

When I said yes, he then asked me a few staple questions. Was completely sure that it was what wanted? What did my partner say? What would happen if we split up and I then met someone who wanted to have children?

Satisfied with my answers and seeing how serious I was, he said could have the operation a week later on October 17, 1995.

I was euphoric. I knew it was what I wanted. …