Everything you should know about the sterilisation method

Words by Paige Connery

The essure procedure is a method of sterilisation that involves a coiled micro-insert being implanted into each fallopian tube. The coils are inserted through the vagina, into the womb and then into the tubes. The coils form scar tissue that blocks the fallopian tubes meaning the eggs cannot travel into the womb and are simply reabsorbed by the body.

There is a follow-up appointment three months afterwards at which time you have an HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This is an X-ray with dye inserted into the womb – if dye is seen in the tubes, they are not yet blocked and you have to have another HSG in another 3 months. If no dye is seen in the tubes you are considered ‘fully occluded’ and therefore sterilised.

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The essure procedure

I had the essure procedure in July 2014. I had a UTI the day after the procedure that lasted a few days, but apart from that I didn’t realise I was having problems at first. I just thought the pain I was experiencing was a natural reaction to having the implants and that it would settle down after a couple of weeks.

The first period I had after the procedure was 4 days early and lasted 6 days – again I wasn’t too concerned at this point, I just thought it was an ‘upset’ to my natural cycle because of the procedure.

This wasn’t the case and I started to experience more problems: constant pain, worse in my lower left abdomen and an on and off ‘fluttering/vibrating’ sensation in my lower right abdomen; bleeding at ovulation; longer, more painful periods with heavy clotting and tissue loss; pain and bleeding after sex; constantly tired; an occasional metallic taste in my mouth; numbness and tingling in my left leg and foot; weight gain and itching and swelling around the vagina.

I looked on the essure website and the NHS choices website to see if I could find any further information but there was nothing about side-effects or after-effects. I contacted PALS at the hospital and they arranged an appointment with a consultant.

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At my appointment in September 2014, the consultant told me that none of these problems were a result of having essure and that I should just attend my HSG appointment to confirm the coils were in place. I was told that if I was still experiencing problems after the HSG I would have to have further tests to find out what was wrong with me. I was also told that if I didn’t want the HSG then I wouldn’t be able to see the consultant again and my case would be closed due to ‘no further action required on patient’s part’.

I wasn’t happy at the prospect of having the HSG when I was already in pain all the time and was concerned this would give me more severe pain and bleeding. I refused to have the HSG and contacted PALS at the hospital again. I was given an appointment to see a different consultant in October 2014.

At this appointment, the consultant still refused to believe my problems were due to essure but he agreed to remove my tubes and the coils (bilateral salpingectomy). As the coils become embedded in the tubes due to the scar tissue, the procedure is non-reversible and the tubes have to be removed.

In many cases, the coils have perforated the tubes and surrounding organs, have fragmented and embedded in the womb, or have migrated out of the tubes and never been found.

I had my salpingectomy in January 2015 and felt better almost immediately. I know it will sound strange to say I felt really good as soon as I woke up from surgery but I felt clear-headed and much stronger. I didn’t realise just how tired and ill I had become until I woke up from surgery and felt so good.

I went home the same day as I had my surgery and spent a few days at home recovering. I started a work placement two weeks later and the majority of my symptoms were completely gone by then.

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Lingering effects of essure

The only problem I still have is the numbness and tingling in my left leg and foot. I have since been diagnosed with osteoarthritis which is another condition that many have attributed to developing after having essure but I have had knee problems for a while and I think essure just aggravated it.

I have just celebrated two years e-free and I know that many women aren’t as lucky as me and are fighting for removal. I’m sure there must be many e-sisters out there who are suffering but don’t even realise what their problems are caused by. I want to share my story to give these women some peace of mind, to know they are not crazy and their symptoms are real and to hopefully prevent even more women undergoing this procedure.

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Support for essure problems

Google essure problems and you will see just how many women are complaining about this. If you are on Facebook and Twitter, search for #essure #essureproblems and again you will see many complaints. The majority of these complaints are in America where essure has been used for around 16 years. There is hardly any awareness in the UK which is why I am trying to get the word out here.

I wanted to be sterilised because I definitely didn’t want any more children.  I fell pregnant with my daughter when I was on the pill so didn’t want to risk taking it again, and with the pill failing I didn’t want to chance any other hormone based injections or implants. I’d had a coil but didn’t like it and I have a latex intolerance and don’t like condoms anyway.

I chose essure because it was recommended by the nurse I saw at the consultation. It was ‘sold’ as the best option because it is classed as a non-surgical procedure so there would be no surgery and therefore no recovery time, just a couple of hours in hospital and then back to life as normal.

Apart from the numbness and tingling in my leg, I am well again.  I’ve lost weight, have two jobs and have never felt better.

There has been some amazing news today – Brazil has banned the procedure, hopefully the first of many bans!

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