Essure Permanent Birth Control

Nearly a decade ago doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were among the first to offer an alternative to tubal ligation with the then-new "Essure" method of birth control. This non-surgical method for women involves plugging the fallopian tubes with a coil that eventually creates scar tissue, closing off the fallopian tubes thus preventing conception.

A Permanent Birth Control

At the time it was considered a breakthrough procedure that would revolutionize permanent birth control because it is less invasive than either tubal ligation or vasectomy. No incision is necessary and the patient can get off the table within 30 minutes, dress, and carry on with the day's activities. The procedure is very fast, however, the building up of scar tissue in the fallopian tubes takes a while, so the woman has to remain on another type of birth control until the scar tissue is sufficiently built up. At a three-month exam the tubes are examined to ensure they are closed at which time no other form of birth control is necessary. Studies showed that at three months 96 percent of women's tubes were closed and at the end of six months 100 percent were closed. Although it was never touted as being perfect, in a two year follow up with the procedure, the efficacy rate was 99.8 percent.

Tubal ligation has been the primary method of permanent birth control with vasectomy being very popular as well. Although both methods were considered to be permanent, these days many of them can be reversed, and indeed, many are performed with the ability to be reversed if the patient wants to have more children. The success rates for tubal ligation and vasectomy reversals are getting better all of the time. Essure cannot be reversed. Once the tubes are blocked conception is impossible.

Ensure Procedure

During the Essure procedure, two micro-inserts (metal springs) are placed into each fallopian tube. Over time, the coil implants trigger scar tissue to grow around them causing a complete blockage in the tubes. The implants are inserted without anesthetic or incision, making the procedure an attractive option to surgery for a tubal ligation. Essure is done using a hysteroscope to guide the placement of the small insert. The hysteroscope is inserted through the vagina, cervix and uterus then the doctor locates the tubes and inserts the coils. It is relatively painless, producing discomfort at the level of menstrual cramping.

When determining if Essure is right for you, it is important to remember that this procedure is irreversible, unlike a tubal ligation. Essure is literally a permanent birth control method. It may be the right choice if you are absolutely certain you do not want any more children and you want permanent birth control without surgery. There are some questions you could ask yourself if you are trying to decide whether this method of birth control is for you, such as asking yourself if you want to stop using hormonal contraception; if you want to have your tubes tied but you're concerned about anesthetic; if you constantly worry about an unplanned pregnancy; and of course, are you sure you don't want any more children.

Who Is This For?

If there is any thought about having children in the future, this method is probably not the best choice for you. Essure is not the right decision if you are already pregnant or if you've just had a baby within six weeks of deciding to have the procedure or if you have an active or recent pelvic infection.

Since this procedure is permanent, it should not be done under coercion or pressure from other people. Birth control is a personal decision and in this case, a life-altering one. This is not the kind of decision to be made when under stress.


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