Amie Newman, Our Bodies Ourselves: August 23, 2017.
Women report severe pain, hair loss, and heavy bleeding. They share stories of migraines, tooth decay, and brain fog. Some develop life altering autoimmune disorders. More than 35,000 women have joined the Essure Problems private Facebook group to commiserate and offer advice to one another, bonding over these unexpected and often debilitating symptoms.
Essure is a method of permanent birth control that’s been in the crossfire of controversy over the last several years as more women come forward to report symptoms and demand action on the part of its manufacturer, Bayer.
The latest coverage, by author and journalist Jennifer Block in the Washington Post this summer, dives into Essure’s life cycle thus far and the stories of the women who have trusted their bodies to their doctors and the device, only to end up sick and defeated.
Essure is a non-surgical type of sterilization that consists of two small metal coils wrapped around polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibers inserted through the vagina and into the fallopian tubes. It works when the fibers cause inflammation and eventually scar tissue, blocking the fallopian tubes from allowing an egg to pass through.
The method was praised by the women’s health community when it came to market in 2002, after working its way through a short-term human trial and FDA approval. Until that time, the only way to sterilize women was through surgery. Essure offered what seemed to be a safe, effective, and quick method of permanent birth control.
Since that time, more than half a million women — mostly in the United States — have used the device. […]
In 2015, Diana Zuckerman, President of the National Center for Health Research (NCHR), wrote about the problems with Essure for Our Bodies Ourselves. NCHR decided to investigate the issue after hearing from women with severe symptoms as well as women who became pregnant with Essure. While the FDA web site reported that the device was 99.8 percent effective, with “very few side effects,” NCHR was troubled by what they found when they dug deeper: The “Ah-ha” moment came when several women told us that they had participated in clinical trials the FDA used as the basis for its approval. They told us that their reports of unrelenting, debilitating pain and other serious side effects were not included in the clinical trial data. Why? They said they were told by the doctors and nurses involved in the studies that the side effects were not caused by the device. […]
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