I was pa-roozing the twitterverse the other day and came across something very interesting... a type of birth control heard of before - Essure. I thought perhaps it was a new thing, but apparently Essure has been around since 2002.
It's a permanent type of birth control and is called an "insert". What do they insert, you ask? The doctor vaginally inserts two long, skinny springs into your fallopian tubes - one spring for each tube. Then, after three months your body has essentially healed around and grown through the springs, creating a plug not allowing sperm to pass.
The problem is... Essure contains a very common skin allergen - NICKEL.
Why they would use a common allergen in a product like this is beyond me. I mean, it won ALLERGEN OF THE YEAR by the ACDC (American Contact Dermatitis Society) in 2008.
I've verified that this implant contains nickel via Essure's website, but wasn't able to find a lot of other information about the exact contents of the implant. The initial tweet I saw, written by Jennie FIscher, does:
The man who wrote that note is Rob McCarthy, the Senior Director of Operations at Bayer and Conceptus. As you can see, Essure also contains chromium... and a bunch of other ingredients.
My next step in this journey was clicking the link in Jennie's bio. And lo and behold.... it brought me to a website run by the famous Erin Brockovich, called Essure Procedure! On this site, Brockovich campaigns to have Essure taken off the market and also features over 1,000 stories from women who have had problems with the product.
On the homepage of Erin's website, it talks about various issues women have dealt with because of Essure. From allergies to hysterectomies, severe headaches and even perforated colons... it sounds pretty bad.
Then, I read the stories and my heart broke. The most upsetting thing is most of these poor women are going to their doctors for help and the doctors are telling them it's not even a possibility that the implant is causing problems. One doctor even warned their patient about what they'd read online. In this case... I think it's a good idea to know the experiences other people have had with Essure.
So, I read Amy's story in which due to a nickel allergy, Essure implants caused her to lose her hair, become very swollen in her abdomen area, regularly get the chills and in her words she felt like a "step above a vegetable". She also lost out on four years of her children's lives and ended up getting a hysterectomy.
I read Holly's story which involved her procedure being very painful, the doctor improperly placing one of the coils which caused it to fall into her uterus. They told her it would be fine there (wtf?) but it was, in fact, NOT FINE. Holly now deals with painful bloating, diarrhea, the inability to lose weight, irritability and is now awaiting a hysterectomy.
And then there's Krystal... a nickel allergy sufferer, who ended up losing her marriage to Essure. This is because her husband couldn't deal with Krystal being irritated and not wanting to be touched. Hell, I'd be in a bad mood and wouldn't want to be touched either if I was dealing with all her side effects.
These women have had MAJOR parts of their lives destroyed due to Essure.
Women who are requesting to have their tubes tied are being encouraged to get these implants. Yet, many of the women were unaware of potential side effects. And it seems like none of them were tested for nickel allergy beforehand. From what I've read, many doctors don't even mention the fact that Essure contains nickel. Some doctors say there's not enough nickel to cause an allergic reaction (We all know that's a lie. If you're sensitive enough - YOUR BODY REACTS).
People are having such severe reactions that I believe EVERYBODY should be tested for possible allergies before getting these implants. Why?
BECAUSE ESSURE IS PERMANENT!
These poor women are having their entire uterus removed to get those stupid little coils out of their bodies. Some of these women are TELLING their doctors that they can feel the implants and the doctors are telling them "nope, not possible".
I understand that doctors only know what they're taught but HOLY COW... What's going on IS NOT RIGHT. I feel like these women aren't even being heard... and most of them are in such severe pain that they're missing out on enjoying their lives. It's no joke. They can't get that back. Ever.
The solution? Take Essure off the market!
If not, then women SHOULD BE TOLD that this is a rather risky procedure. They should be educated on all of the possible side effects and asked if they have allergies, if not tested.
I mean, come on... some of these women were asked if they had an allergy to nickel AFTER THE FACT. REALLY?!? So... since the doctor failed to ask them a simple question they now have to have their WHOLE uterus removed? SWEET. Good job, guys, thanks. Think about the people's lives that are being ruined, please.
Speaking of these women, I had the opportunity to talk to Jennie Fischer from Twitter (via email) and ask her some questions about her experience of ten years with Essure:
Jennie, you mentioned that you've had Essure for ten years. Did you specifically ask for Essure or was it suggested to you as an alternative to getting your tubes tied?
I went to him to talk about getting a tubal. He recommended Essure instead.
Were you warned of any side effects or the fact that it contains nickel and chromium?
I was not told anything about the nickel content or I would have refused, I have always known I am allergic to it. He did not tell me about ANY side effects. He only had good things to say about Essure.
How was your experience with the procedure? Was it painful and were there any errors with implanting it correctly?
I was asleep during my procedure. I was under general anesthesia in the hospital.
It's interesting to me that you were under anesthesia aka "knocked out" during the procedure... In my research of Essure, it looks like it's actually a ten minute procedure that people are awake for. Is that a new development in the procedure or was anesthesia something you requested?
He also did the LEEP procedure while I was under and he told me that I couldn't be awake for that. But, many ladies that I have talked to have wondered why their doctors also had them under when it's supposed to be an in office procedure. I am so glad I wasn't awake for it now, after reading posts about how horrible it was.
**A note on this from The Allergista: I've also had a LEEP procedure done and was fully awake. They numbed my cervix with Novocaine and I didn't feel a thing. I didn't even feel the shot of Novocaine. LEEP procedures remove pre-cancerous cells from your cervix.
Have you had any side effects from Essure? And if so, how did the doctors respond?
I have migraines, hair loss, skin rashes, bloating, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, chronic fatigue and brain fog. I also believe that Essure was a contributing factor to my Ulcerative Colitis diagnosis in 2012. I had no health problems prior to being implanted with Essure. After seeing a report on my local news about Essure in October 2013, it all started to make sense! I joined the page and I could not believe there were other women out there having the exact symptoms that I was having. I immediately made an appointment with my implanting doctor. When I went for my appointment, he was very rude to me. He dismissed everything that I had to say and refused to believe that Essure could be the reason for any of my symptoms. He was my doctor for many years and I trusted him. I left his office in tears.
Are you considering getting a hysterectomy or any other medical procedure in an effort to remove the Essure coils from your body?
Yes, I am hoping to get a full hysterectomy very soon. I cannot wait to see how many symptoms resolve after removal.
Do you have any advice for other women with Essure implants?
My advice to other women with Essure would be to join our group Essure Problems on Facebook. You will not find greater support anywhere else! We call ourselves E-Sisters. We are united to get Essure removed from the market. (When I joined the page in 2013, there was around 2400 women on the page. Now, we have are over 27,000 members worldwide.)
A big thanks to Jennie for spreading the word about this, being so open and allowing me to ask her some very personal questions. She rocks!
All of this is so heart breaking. I don't know whose fault it is... the people who created it, the doctors for not educating the patients or Essure's salespeople for not educating the doctors.
Either way, it's PRET-TY obvious that anybody considering or being told to consider Essure deserves a lot more information than what they've been receiving.