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Permanent birth control option: Essure for women who don’t want to have children

Janice McDuffee is a graduate of news-editorial journalism from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She now works in freelance writing and editing.

New birth control?

If you are sure you don't want to have children but the thought of getting your tubes-tied seems too scary, invasive and intimidating, there is another option for you to consider. Essure, a convenient sterilization procedure approved by the FDA has proven successful in clinical trials, resulting in zero pregnancies. But is it right for you?

Married Woman with Three Children

An easy alternative to tubal ligation

Essure is becoming more popular among women and physicians, and can be performed in the doctor's office without the use of general anesthesia.

Board certified gynecologist and expert in uterine therapies and founder of EASy Gyn Clinical & Research Centers of North America, Inc., Seth A Stabinsky, MD, believes this trend is beneficial to all involved parties.

"The venue is a win-win for everyone. Patients are much more comfortable, their physician can manage his or her time better in the office, and costs are reduced dramatically for third-party payers (health insurance companies)," he says.

According to Stabinsky, the growing popularity of Essure is a positive move for women's birth control because it is not only effective but is dramatically more convenient than the traditional tubal ligation techniques.

He explains, "When I practiced general obstetrics and gynecology and patients requested tubal ligation, I advised them to first see if their partner would undergo a vasectomy, because it was safer, cheaper and more effective. With Essure, this is no longer the case. Male and female sterilization now occurs on a level playing field."

Essure

How does Essure work?

According to the company's website, an Essure-trained doctor inserts a spring-like coil into the vagina, through the cervix and uterus and into the fallopian tubes.

For the following three months, the patient is advised to use an alternative form of birth control while the body tissue grows into the micro-insert, which will eventually block the fallopian tube. (Watch a video demonstration of Essure.)

Stabinsky says the procedure can take anywhere from five to 20 minutes, but about 10 minutes on average. He adds, "If I can't get the devices placed within 20 minutes, it is time to try another day."

After the three months, the patients undergo the Essure confirmation test to confirm that the tubes are completely binded. Stabinsky says he uses a special X-ray called a hysterosalpingogram or HSG to perform the confirmation test at the three-month mark.

"At that time, an X-ray visible dye is placed through the cervix, filling the uterine cavity and near ends of the fallopian tubes. If the dye does not pass the microinserts, then the patient may stop the alternative birth control," he explains.

Considerations before you get Essure

Even though Essure has been approved for a few years (and is the first and only FDA approved sterilization technique), it may be new to you.

Many doctors want to wait until there is more long-term data on the success rates of a permanent procedure before they begin to practice it themselves. However, it has become increasingly more popular with women in and outside of the US since its FDA approval in 2002.

Stabinsky explained there have been failures in some cases, most commonly after an opening forms from the fallopian tubes to the abdominal cavity (the fistula) that allows the sperm and egg to meet.

There also have been cases where the insert needed to be removed, although rare, that resulted from pain or misplaced devices that could result in scarring.

One very important consideration to take seriously that goes with any sterilization procedure is that it is permanent, and not reversible.

Stabinsky warns, "One big problem with sterilization in general is subsequent regret, especially in younger people. I don't like to perform sterilization in women under 30 unless they are very, very sure and in a very stable relationship."

Is Essure the right birth control for you?

The ideal candidate for Essure, according to Stabinsky, is a woman who is done with childbearing, who is not relying on hormonal birth control to control heavy periods or period pains (because when she stops the medications she will suffer from these problems again – Essure has no hormones and won't do anything to help bleeding and cramps), and she should be in good general health.

Although it varies by physician and geographic location, Stabinsky says that Essure is highly cost effective when performed in the office setting and almost all insurance companies now cover it. Women without health insurance can expect to pay around $3,000.

For more information on Essure, visit Essure.com and talk to you doctor to see if Essure is your best option.

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