I just had my second child, at forty. After spending years trying to conceive my first – and having my second come as a surprise – I can confidently say that I would like to permanently shutter my baby-making shop. The problem is – I’m sort of terrified of long-term, permanent birth control.
After two c-sections, the thought of going through another surgical procedure is just not something I can wrap my brain around. Also, at the moment I don’t have insurance, so tubal ligation is out of the question. I’ve read about Essure and it always seemed like a pretty good alternative to getting my tubes tied. It’s permanent, non-hormonal, non-surgical and recommended for women like me – who don’t want anymore children. From Blisstree:
Dr. Carrie Panoff, an OB/GYN, explains what Essure is and how it works:
A trained physician places soft/flexible inserts into your fallopian tubes via your cervix. Over the course of three months, scar tissue develops within these inserts and your tubes are blocked permanently. The entire procedure takes just a few minutes and you can immediately return to your usual activities. Over the next three months, the body works with the inserts to form a natural barrier in the fallopian tubes to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Three months after the Essure procedure, an Essure Confirmation Test is given to confirm that the inserts are in place and that the fallopian tubes are blocked, verifying that the patient can rely on Essure for permanent birth control.
No surgery and the lasting effects of getting your tubes tied? It all seemed so great until I read recent reports of hundreds of complaints.
From NBC News:
To date, the FDA has received about 900 adverse event reports involving Essure, which is less than 1 percent of the total procedures performed.
But women who have had complications said it is not just the number of problems they’re concerned with. It’s the severity.
The complaints range from abdominal pain and swelling to forced hysterectomies to get the coils out.
Okay, that scares me. I realize less than one percent means pretty good odds that you will not have an adverse reaction, but some of the complaints just sound so horrific: “Some women described ‘bleeding every day’ and developing a ‘spiderweb’ of scar tissue. Another said, ‘I felt my insides were on fire.'”
The idea of inserting something into my body and keeping it there makes me uncomfortable. I’m probably just a wimp, though. I have the same feelings about laser surgery to correct my vision. For some reason I always think I’m going to be the cautionary tale.
Some doctors are wondering if Essure was studied long enough before it was put on the market. An allergy to nickel may be responsible for some of these adverse reactions, but patients are not tested for the allergy – they are merely asked whether or not they are allergic.
Dr. Diana Zuckerman has worked as a congressional investigator and currently runs a nonprofit FDA watchdog group. She believes more should have been done.
“You’re looking at those side effects for those few years,” Zuckerman said. “But you don’t know what’s going to happen to her five or 10 or 15 or 20 years down the road.”