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Notes on Women's Health
Notes on Women's Health

Essure permanent birth control: risks and benefits

(PART 2)

In my last blog I wrote about Essure, a relatively new procedure that offers a highly effective option for permanent birth control. One of the best ways to evaluate whether or not a medical procedure is right for you is to look at it in terms of its risks and benefits. Here are some more questions and answers that I hope will help you with your decision.

Is the Essure procedure effective?

While no form of birth control is 100% effective, fewer than one in 100,000 pregnancies occur when tubal blockage has been confirmed by the three-month test. The Essure procedure is the only birth control method with zero pregnancies in clinical trials.

Is the Essure procedure safe?

Studies have shown that the Essure procedure is safe. However, as with most birth control methods, there are risks. In some cases one or both Essure coils may not place properly in the Fallopian tubes and may have to be re-applied.

Is the Essure procedure painful?

In most cases the pain of an Essure procedure is far less and shorter-lasting than the pain often associated with a surgical procedure such as tubal ligation. Symptoms during or immediately after an Essure procedure may include mild to moderate cramping, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and bleeding. However, pain from the procedure is usually relatively mild. In a medical study published in 2005, 72 women who were surveyed immediately after undergoing the Essure procedure said the pain they felt was slightly less on average than the pain they experienced during their menstrual cycle.

How long does the Essure procedure take?

Essure patients are asked to arrive an hour before the procedure time. Once inside the examination room, the cervix is numbed and the uterus is filled with a liquid saline solution. The next step, insertion of the coils into the Fallopian tubes, takes about 10 minutes. The three-month test usually takes about an hour.

How long does Essure procedure recovery last?

Most women return to their normal activities in less than a day.

How quickly does the Essure procedure work?

It usually takes about three months for the Essure treatment to completely block both Fallopian tubes. During this time, women should continue to use a backup form of birth control. After three months, the Essure procedure’s effectiveness is tested using an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) test, which uses dye to test the seal. In some cases it may take six months or longer for the Fallopian tubes to become completely obstructed.

Will the Essure procedure affect my monthly cycle?

Unlike many temporary methods of birth control such as birth control pills, the patch and some IUDs, the Essure coils do not contain hormones. They will not interfere with your monthly cycle.

Is the Essure procedure covered by my insurance?

Essure procedures are covered by most insurance providers. If the procedure is performed in a doctor’s office, a co-pay may be all you need to pay. My office can work with you and your insurance company to determine what your insurance company will cover.

How does the Essure procedure compare to getting your tubes tied?

Tubal ligation, or “getting your tubes tied” is a procedure that involves severing Fallopian tubes or pinching them shut. It can be done via cutting or burning the Fallopian tubes, or by using rings or clips that restrict part of the Fallopian tubes. The procedure usually takes one to two hours, with general anesthesia. It’s usually done in a hospital or a clinic.

The Essure procedure is different from tubal ligation in that it does not involve cutting, it does not require general anesthesia, and it usually takes about 10 minutes. More than half of all Essure procedures are performed in a doctor’s office.

More information

If you’d like additional information, you can click on any of the links below, or you can contact my office directly.

Links to Essure resources

Essure’s home page
Essure patient and physician testimonials
Essure patient information booklet pdf
Dr. Garofalo’s webpage on permanent birth control and Essure
Dr. Garofalo’s Essure consent form pdf

Dr. John Garofalo, M.D., is a gynecologist located in Fairfield County, Connecticut. For more information on Dr. Garofalo and his medical practice, go to www.garofaloobgyn.com. Dr. Garofalo can be reached for a personal consultation at 203.855.3535.