Permanent Birth Control

The advertisements don't say much, but they get the point across: Essure is a permanent form of birth control and it's gentle on the system. You may not learn a lot of details from the television commercial, but r obstetricians/gynecologists are starting to use this procedure more frequently. Many prefer it to tubal ligation, which requires surgery and some recovery.

Permanent Sterilization

"It's our preferred method of sterilization," says Dr. Douglas Toussaint, of Toussaint Obstetrics and Gynecology in Morris, Illinois.

Toussaint says he is now performing more Essure procedures than tubal ligations for his patients. However, he cautions that a woman has to be completely sure she won't change her mind about having children in the future. "It is a permanent sterilization," he said. "It cannot be reversed as some tubal ligations can."

Toussaint says that even in vitro fertilization (IVF) will not avail the patient who wants to conceive after having the Essure procedure. There is no turning back. So, a patient must be really sure it's what she wants before she decides to have the procedure.

No Drawbacks

Other than its permanence, Toussaint says there are no drawbacks. He isn't seeing very many side effects and not one of the procedures he has performed have failed. His patients are in love with Essure. The procedure is simple and there is zero time spent in recovery. Women are able to go back to work the day after having the procedure.

In the Essure procedure, a barrier is created inside a woman's fallopian tubes. In the normal course of the reproductive cycle, eggs move from the ovaries down the fallopian tubes and on into the uterus. If sperm should make contact with the eggs while they are in the fallopian tubes, the eggs may become fertilized and will then implant in the uterus where they grow into babies.

When the physician performs the Essure technique, he guides a flexible soft insert into the vagina and through to a woman's uterus where he threads the insert into each of her fallopian tubes, one after the other. By way of the insert, the doctor places a narrow coil made of metal into each tube. The entire procedure takes only 10-20 minutes.

A Success!

After the procedure, scar tissue will form around the coil since it senses it as a foreign body. As the scar tissue forms, the openings in the fallopian tubes become blocked so that neither egg nor sperm may journey through them. Three months after the Essure procedure, the physician will inject dye into the uterus. An x-ray will be taken to check that the dye stays inside the uterus and has no exit by which it can leak out. Assuming the dye stays put, the procedure is deemed a success.

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