You may have heard the news that Bayer, the drug manufacturer, will stop selling Essure, the non-surgical sterilization device, at the end of 2018.
What is Essure anyway?
Essure is a medical device that provides permanent birth control (also called sterilization) for women, without surgery. Sterilization is a procedure that closes or blocks your fallopian tubes so you can’t get pregnant. (Your fallopian tubes are where eggs and sperm meet. If your tubes are closed or blocked, the egg and sperm can’t meet, and you can’t get pregnant.) Essure is made up of small coils that your provider places in your fallopian tubes. The coils create inflammation, and as scar tissue builds up over several months, the fallopian tubes become blocked.
What safety concerns are there about Essure?
There have been reports of people having serious problems with Essure, including pain, bleeding, allergic reactions, and having the device poking through the fallopian tubes or uterus, among others.
Because of these reported problems, and because some providers were not fully informing people about the possible risks before getting Essure, the FDA already added a warning to the device’s label and put limits on its sale. They also required Bayer to do a safety study, which is still going on.
Do you need to have Essure removed?
If you have Essure already, don’t panic. It is not being recalled or banned—Bayer is voluntarily taking it off the market. They have said that they’re taking this step because sales have been down. The FDA has stated that women who are currently using Essure without any problems can keep doing so.
If you think you’re having issues with Essure, here are some questions you may want to ask your provider:
Have other people reported similar issues after getting Essure?
Have you checked to see if the Essure is currently in place in my fallopian tubes, or could one or both of the devices have moved?
Have you checked to see if the Essure has punctured my fallopian tubes or uterus?
Could I be having a hypersensitivity reaction to one of the components of Essure, like a metal?
Could I be having an autoimmune response to Essure?
If I need or want to have the Essure removed, have you performed this surgery before?
If you’re having problems, it is possible to have Essure removed with surgery. Some people need to have hysterectomies to have the Essure removed completely. If you are having problems with Essure or if you’re having any health issues that started after you got Essure, talk to a health care provider as soon as you can.
As always, if you feel your provider isn’t listening to you, isn’t answering your questions, is angry that you’re asking questions, or otherwise isn’t treating you with respect, look for another provider.
Can you still get Essure if you want it?
Essure will be available through the end of the year, and even into 2019 until doctors run out of the device. At the end of 2019, doctors will be asked to return any devices they still have left.
Here are some questions to ask your doctor before you get Essure:
What are all of the possible risks and complications of Essure?
What are the issues you’ve seen in patients with Essure?
If I do have any of those problems after getting it, what can be done?
How many times have you implanted Essure before?
Have you ever had to remove Essure?
What are my other options for permanent birth control?
What are my options for long-term birth control that’s not permanent?
Are there other options for permanent birth control besides Essure?
Yes! Surgical sterilization (also called getting your tubes tied) continues to be a good option for many women, and is an alternative to Essure.
There are also long-acting forms of birth control that are not permanent, like the IUD and the implant (Nexplanon). Use our Method Explorer to help you figure out what type of birth control is right for you.