A New Family Planning Alternative
Deciding when their family is the right size-or how to make sure it stays that size-is a personal decision that many women may find easier to make in the years to come. For women who have decided that they do not want any more children and feel ready for a permanent form of birth control, "getting your tubes tied," or tubal ligation, is no longer the only option. A new office-based procedure known as the Essure procedure is quickly replacing the old operation and is covered by most insurance plans. During the procedure, a tiny, soft spring, called a micro-insert, is placed into each fallopian tube. The body's natural response causes tissue to grow into the micro-inserts, blocking sperm from reaching the egg. This tissue growth takes about three months and additional birth control must be used during this time.
After three months, a special X-ray test verifies that the system is working. Choosing this advanced procedure offers many benefits. There are no incisions, it does not contain hormones, it can be performed in a doctor's office with minimal anesthesia and it's permanent. The procedure takes about 15 minutes to complete and most women return to normal activities within a day or two. More than 63,000 women worldwide have already had the procedure and clinical studies have reported high safety and patient satisfaction.
After many years of clinical study, no pregnancies have been reported when the micro-insert is placed correctly. While no method of birth control is 100 percent effective, the procedure's effectiveness rate is 99.80 percent with four years of clinical data. "We finally have a technique for a woman that is comparable in simplicity, accessibility and safety to vasectomy in men," said Dr. Barbara Levy, a national expert in endoscopic surgery practicing in Seattle. "Although the complications of surgical tubal ligation are uncommon, when they occur they may be life threatening. The rare deaths associated with tubal ligation were unacceptable in my mind." Another advantage for busy mothers is that the procedure eliminates the time spent recovering from surgery.