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Concern on the Upswing in the U.K. Regarding Essure Birth Control Method

Oct 23, 2013

The Essure contraceptive device debuted in the United Kingdom about four years ago, while it appeared on the U.S. market in 2002. Although not as hot a topic over there as it has become here, that is bound to change as awareness of the device – and the potential harm it can cause – continues to grow among the public.

Essure is actually a form of sterilization. Complaints about the severe injuries and complications alleged to have resulted from Essure implants have caused noted consumer rights advocate Erin Brockovich to begin a campaign in the U.S. demanding the banning of the procedure, according to

"There's something wrong with the device, in my opinion," Brockovich has said. "It's a form of permanent birth control, and women's organs are being perforated…. It's ridiculous that at any level we try to defend this. If 30 women did suffer harm for unknown reason, we'd investigate. We have thousands injured. I don't think it's safe.”

As Essure awareness grows across the U.K., it seems that an increasing number of British women have opted to have the device implanted, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.

The Essure procedure involves inserting a coil into the fallopian tubes. This causes scarring, literally, that blocks the tubes and prevents fertilization – permanently. The implanting procedure is simple enough to become a routine procedure in a doctor’s office, the Daily Mail reported. But, unlike other types of birth control, which can be reversed, the Essure method is intended to be – and is quite – permanent.

More than 700,000 women in the U.S. have had Essure implanted inside them, according to Conceptus, the company that originally designed and manufactured Essure, which Bayer acquired when it gobbled up Conceptus earlier this year.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), over 800 women have filed adverse event reports about Essure since 2004. Extreme abdominal pain, excessive bleeding, rashes and bloating, perforation of the uterus, and surgeries to remove damaged internal organs – all have resulted from Essure, according to the adverse event reports.

Because it has been available for fewer years in the U.K., this birth control method seems to have caused fewer hullabaloos there yet, the Daily Mail reported. Still, news of the potential grave side effects has started showing up on some U.K. forums, according to reports. British physicians and women’s groups are also expressing concern about Essure’s permanence, noting that events such as a new relationship or a change in family circumstances are all it would take to perhaps cause a woman to regret having had the procedure.

In the U.S., Brockovich has started a grassroots campaign over Essure. She did so after learning about the increasing number of complications and injuries attributed to Essure, reported.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a senior health contributor for ABC News, said there are other forms of permanent birth control—tubal ligation and male vasectomy—that are lower risk and higher benefit than Essure. Permanently placing a foreign item such as the Essure coil inside the body creates the potential for chronic pain, she told ABC News.

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