Dear Dr. Kate,
I know I am done having children, but I do not want to go under the knife for a tubal ligation. I have heard of a procedure called Essure. Have you heard of it? How does it work and is it safe?
— Done Kidding Around
Essure is the latest form of permanent contraception that combines the best of the IUD and tubal ligation. Essure is performed through a procedure called hysteroscopy. Your gyno places a camera through your cervix, up into your uterus, so she can see the openings to your fallopian tubes. Small coils (that look like the spring of a ballpoint pen) are placed into the tubes through this camera. The coils cause scarring in the tubes, and the tubes in essence block themselves around the coil. A special X-ray three months after the procedure confirms that the tubes are indeed blocked. So, unlike tubal ligation and the IUD, Essure doesn’t work right away, and you need to stay on another form of birth control until the X-ray.
But it is a permanent procedure, and you won’t have any incisions made in your belly (so no scars). Doctors can perform this procedure in the operating room, and some can now do it in their office; either way it’s a one-day, no-admission-to-the-hospital procedure. It is a relatively new procedure, though, so you may have to call around in your area to find a gyno who can do it. While all procedures carry some risk, the risks of Essure are low.
— Dr. Kate
Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.