When it comes to effectively preventing unwanted pregnancies, women simply don’t have a lot of good options. Now, women who have turned to the permanent birth control procedure known as Essure in an effort to avoid the harmful effects of birth control pills, are finding that the alternative can actually be even worse.
Essure is a small device that is inserted by a doctor through a woman’s cervix into the Fallopian tubes. Over the course of a few months, it leads to the formation of scar tissue around the coils, which blocks sperm from getting to the eggs. The company’s website brags that most women can go home just 45 minutes after the procedure. There are no hormones in the coil; it’s 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy; and no anesthesia is required.
On the surface, this sounds like a good choice for many women, but the reality is very different. First of all, the coils contain a nickel-titanium alloy that is a common allergen. While the packaging warns that this could lead to allergic reactions such as itching, hives or rash, many patients won’t end up seeing this warning, because the device is inserted by their physician – much like the warning labels on vaccines, which most patients also never see.
KXAN Austin recently profiled several women who had experienced adverse effects from the device. One woman believes it caused an ovarian cyst rupture, and is also responsible for a serious depletion in her energy, as well as weight loss and constant fatigue. She regrets getting the device because she no longer has the energy to keep up with her two young children.
Meanwhile, a Liberty Hill mother also reports suffering from fatigue, bloating and severe menstrual pain. She describes pain that builds up in her pelvis before working its way down her legs. Countless women interviewed for the article stated that they, too, had experienced horrific side effects that even necessitated a hysterectomy in some cases.
Thousands of complaints
These women are certainly not alone. In fact, FDA records show that around 10,000 complaints have been filed pertaining to Essure-related complications. Some of the most common complaints include pain, headaches, fatigue and menstrual irregularities. The problem is so widespread, that the FDA conducted hearings last September to consider testimony from patients and doctors.
Bayer was then ordered to carry out a study to determine the device’s benefits and risks and draft a boxed warning and patient checklist outlining the risks. However, the firm is standing behind the drug, and insists that the benefits of using it outweigh the risks. Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers have introduced the E-Free Act, which aims to pull Essure off the market. Bayer estimates that around 750,000 women use Essure, the majority of which are in the U.S.
If the device causes trouble for so many women, why don’t they just get it removed? The answer is not that simple. It turns out that the coils can only be removed through a complete hysterectomy, a dramatic surgery with serious risks.
Birth control pills not much better
Other forms of birth control also carry their own set of risks. One of the most popular forms, the birth control pill, puts the more than 100 million women around the world who take it at a high risk of blood clots, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, weight gain, brain tumors and mood changes, while also boosting their chances of developing breast and cervical cancers.
Many women are simply not comfortable with the idea of screwing coils into their fallopian tubes and risking lifelong pain or taking a toxic pill every day. Condoms might not pose health risks, but they are not quite as effective, either. Women can turn to natural methods, such as ovulation kits and the basal body temperature method, to help avoid pregnancy without putting their health in danger.
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