To Essure or Not? That Is the Question

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • If a man decides that he would rather not father children, he has the option to choose a vasectomy as a rather "easy choice" for permanent birth control.  For women, having your tubes tied as a permanent birth control option means general anesthesia, a hospital stay and then several days to a week of recovery.  Any new osterilization choice that can offer a quicker and less invasive option would of course, be heralded as a wonderful and desirable opportunity.


    A relatively new procedure being offered to women allows for an office visit, some mild sedation/relaxation and some local anesthetic injections and a non-invasive placement of a small coil into each Fallopian tube.  The procedure is done under the guide of a video monitor, and the woman can easily walk to her car when it's done.  With research data suggesting that the female sterilization market will continue to grow from its current numbers (700,000 yearly in the US), a quick fix like this Essure procedure will certainly be a very welcome option.

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    Women who have had the procedure say the local anesthetic is "somewhat painful," and post procedure they typically cramped for a couple of hours (similar to menstrual cramps).  The coils that are placed are 1 1/2 inches long and resemble soft writing pen springs.  The coils contain fibers that irritate the Fallopian tubes over time causing scar tissue to form.  The scar tissue blocks the eggs from entering the Fallopian tubes so they can't be fertilized by sperm in the uterus.


    The Essure has actually been available since 2002 - in fact, I interviewed a gynecologist back then for a news report I was doing.  But now it is becoming a mainstream option with many doctors training to use the coils as permanent birth control options for their patient community.  Conceptus, the company behind Essure will soon have a rivel company, Hologic, offering Adiana, a similar procedure that offers soft silicone polymers that when placed, seal off the Fallopian tubes.


    Choosing permanent sterilization is a tough decision for women and one report in the journal, Obstetrics & Gynecology revealed that of 11,232 women who were voluntarily sterilized, 20% under age 30 at the time of sterilization, regretted the choice after the fact.  But for a woman who is clear on the decision, having a less costly (often times its an insurance co-payment), less invasive procedure is a great medical advancement.  And if you are a couple that wants permanent birth control and your guy is just a bit hesitant to undergo a vasectomy - you can now agree to Essure.



Published On: December 12, 2008