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So, you never want to worry about getting pregnant, ever again, but don't fancy going under the knife in an expensive tubal ligation surgery either? Essure is, its website explains, "the only permanent birth control you can get with a non-surgical procedure". At first glance, Essure sounds absolutely perfect.
The Essure system consists of two coiled tubes that are inserted into your fallopian tubes through the vagina, cervix, and uterus. You can have Essure implanted in your doctor's office in a procedure that takes only around 10 minutes, you can go home after about 45 minutes, and resume all your normal daily activities after a day or two.
After tissue grows around the fallopian tubes, a process that goes on for approximately three months, you attend a follow-up appointment to ensure everything's alright, and after that, you've got a permanent birth control method that's meant to last for life and is over 99 percent effective. Given the right health insurance, Essure may even be available to you at no additional cost!
It sounds almost magical, right? Like the answer to the prayers of countless women around the world? Looking at the Essure website, I quickly found myself thinking, "Great, sign me up!" — and I wouldn't be surprised if you did, too. It's good that we live in the age of information, and you're able to access more than a picture perfect Essure leaflet before making your decision.
You see, every medical procedure comes with potential side effects. But not every medical procedure comes with a nearly 32,000 member strong Facebook group where patients offer practical, emotional, and legal support to each other, does it? Essure does. These women, these, "e-sisters" as they call themselves, lament how Essure has made their lives a living hell and are there for each other as they inch towards removal procedures and recover from them. Are your red flags waving yet? They should be.
Essure: Not Without Side Effects!
The US Food and Drug Administration, which approved Essure in 2002, currently has the following notice on its website: "Over the past several years, the FDA has been examining the growing number of adverse event reports associated with the use of Essure."
Reported side effects mentioned on the FDA website include:
- Pelvic pain
- Perforation of the uterus
- Perforation of the fallopian tube(s)
- "Device migration", which is the Essure coils moving to other parts of the reproductive system, presumably facilitating perforation
- Abnormal and irregular vaginal bleeding
- Allergy and hypersensitivity
- Essure failure, leading to unintended pregnancy (note that some of these cases are due to patient failure to attend follow-up appointments confirming Essure was properly in place)
In addition to the side effects described by the FDA, users have complained about painful sexual intercourse, skin rashes, hair loss, fatigue, and headaches, as well as hip pain, numbness of the hands, and various autoimmune conditions, including Lupus. Spending some time among Essure patients, Essure quickly goes from "perfect permanent birth control method" to "house of horrors". We have to note, of course and as always, that correlation doesn't equal causation and that not all symptoms people begin experiencing after having Essure placed are necessarily caused by the device. Still, enough women are reporting very similar side effects that I, for one, want to run in the opposite direction as fast as possible!