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What Is Essure® Tubal Ligation?

A diagram of the female reproductive system, including the fallopian tubes.
Cramping and light spotting are common side effects of Essure tubal litigation.
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  • Written By: Donna Johnson
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2014
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There are many different birth control options available to women. For those whose future plans do not include children, one of the types of permanent birth control, such as Essure® tubal ligation, might be the best choice. Essure® is a non-reversible procedure in which a physician places small coils into the fallopian tubes to block them. Over time, scar tissue grows around these coils, further blocking the fallopian tubes so that sperm cannot travel to the egg to fertilize it. A successful Essure® tubal ligation is more than 99 percent effective in permanently preventing pregnancy.

Essure® tubal ligation is non-surgical and might even be done in a physician's office. No anesthesia is required, and no incisions are made in the patient's body. The coils are inserted vaginally, with the physician manipulating them through the cervix and uterus to place them in the Fallopian tubes. The Essure® procedure only takes a few minutes to complete, after which the patients can return home.

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For the first three months after the Essure® coils are put in place, women must use a backup method of birth control as the body forms scar tissue in the Fallopian tubes. After that time has passed, the physician will perform an Essure® confirmation test to make sure that the coils and scar tissue completely block the tubes. The confirmation test uses contrast dye and an X-ray to make sure that the dye cannot flow past the Essure® coils. If the test confirms total blockage, the Essure® tubal ligation is considered a success.

Most women who want permanent birth control are good candidates for Essure®. Certain medical conditions, such as active pelvic infections, pregnancy within the six weeks prior to the procedure and previous tubal ligation procedures, might prevent women from using the Essure® method. The inserts also might interfere with other medical procedures, such as endometrial ablation, a procedure used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding.

Common side effects include nausea, cramping and light spotting. Some Essure® patients have reported abdominal pain possibly related to the procedure during the first 15 months of use. Hypervolemia, a condition in which the blood contains too much fluid, is extremely rare but can occur.

There are risks associated with Essure® tubal ligation. Women might experience pelvic infection or perforation of the Fallopian tubes or uterus by the coils. Expulsion of one or both Essure® coils is also possible. Although extremely rare, if a woman does become pregnant after the Essure® procedure, the pregnancy is more likely to be ectopic; that is, one in which the embryo implants in the Fallopian tubes rather the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition.

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