With little downtime and boasted as the only female sterilization birth control method administered vaginally, fallopian tube coils such as Essure may have you wondering if this form of family planning is for you.
The coil birth control method
From the procedure itself to the follow-up appointments, learn more about hysteroscopic tubal sterilization.
Fallopian tube coils procedure
Hysteroscopic tubal sterilization is a permanent form of birth control that uses small coil-like implants that cause tissue growth to block the fallopian tubes. By closing off your eggs' path from your ovaries to your uterus, the sperm cannot fertilize the egg — and pregnancy is prevented. "Hysteroscopic tubal sterilization is a good choice for busy women because downtime is minimal, given that there is no cutting or incisions required," explains Kurian Thott, M.D. about the procedure. "The procedure uses all natural openings, so it is a simpler process versus tubal ligation." The fallopian tube procedure is typically performed in the doctor's office with local anesthesia and takes an average of three months for the tubes to become completely blocked and fully effective to prevent pregnancy.
Discover the hidden health benefits of birth control >>
What to expect after hysteroscopic tubal sterilization
While coil sterilization is done as an outpatient procedure, some women experience menstrual cramp-like pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, bleeding and spotting according to reports by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Afterwards, "Your very first visit in most cases occurs around two weeks after the procedure," explains Dr. Thott. "Your follow-up visit may or may not include a pelvic exam to check for bleeding, coil placement, etc."
"At the three-month mark, a test is performed via a hospital setting to confirm that the patient's tubes have sealed over using a contrast dye injected by small catheter via the cervix." Then, an X-ray procedure, called a hysterosalpingography is performed real-time to verify that the fallopian tubes are in fact fully blocked with scar tissue. "In very rare cases where full seal is not achieved, it is recommended that the patient wait a month and repeat the test."
Coil sterilization controversy
While many successful hysteroscopic tubal sterilization procedures have been performed since the FDA approved the Essure device in 2002, Erin Brockovich (of groundwater contamination case against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. fame) is drawing attention to the hundreds of cases of women claiming severe adverse reactions to the permanent sterilization method. Essure states that less than 1 woman out of 1,000 will become pregnant within 5 years of having the procedure, but when you're caught off-guard finding out you're expecting post-procedure like patient Dolly Pena, you're sure to be up in arms. "I had this procedure done last year. I did an HSG test where [the test] confirmed that my implants were placed correctly and everything was a total success as per the doctor. This year I notice weight gain, one coil expelled out of my body and then the following week I found out that I was expecting." Stephanie Bohorquez, of Kingwood, Texas is also regretting the coil sterilization method. "Both tubes are blocked completely and in correct position. However, I have a third coil embedded in my uterus."
Explore the history of women's contraceptives >>
Regardless of whether you're using Essure fallopian tube coils for family planning or are using them in conjunction with an ablation procedure, talk to your doctor to ensure that hysteroscopic tubal sterilization is the right birth control method for you.