Birth Control Women Don't Know About

By Vicky Nguyen
|  Thursday, Sep 30, 2010  |  Updated 12:06 PM PDT
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It's the most effective form of permanent birth control but most women have no idea it exists.

It's the most effective form of permanent birth control but most women have no idea it exists.

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It's the most effective form of permanent birth control on the market, but most women have no idea it exists. It's called the Essure procedure and it's done without surgery, right in a doctor's office.

Dr. Scott Kramer of Womens' Health Specialists in Fremont says the Essure procedure takes about 10 minutes, and it's done while the patient is awake. There are no incisions, no operating room and no general anesthesia.

Mom of three Tammy Tran says she's tried everything -- the pill, intrauterine devices (IUDs), the hormone patch and Depo-Provera shots. She says none worked well for her. After she gave birth to her youngest son, her doctor suggested the Essure procedure.

"Three is enough for me to take care of so I can focus on each and every one of them," Tran said. She says it's been two years since the procedure and she would recommend it to anyone woman who is certain she does not want to have children or add to her family. "I have recommended it to family and friends. I have not had any problems. But women should know, it is permanent and you can't go back."

Two coil inserts are placed into the fallopian tubes through the cervix. Scar tissue forms around the coils and blocks the tubes. It takes about three months for that process to be completed. The woman then returns to her doctor for an X-ray to confirm the tubes are blocked. Kramer says the procedure is 99.7 percent effective.

"You want that permanent blockage there so you never have to worry about pregnancy in the future," Kramer says.

Recovery time is limited to about a day. The most common side effects? Cramping and nausea.

There's really no long term problem with having these inserts in your tubes. "They're similar to stents put in a person's heart," says Kramer.

Essure was FDA approved in 2002. But Kramer says only about 30 percent of women choose the procedure. The rest opt for tubal ligation, which is slightly more invasive, and considered surgical. That process involves two small incisions, a trip to the operating room and a general anesthetic.

But unlike tubal ligation or a vasectomy, Essure is not reversible.

So far about 400,000 women have had the procedure. Most insurance companies cover Essure, sometimes just for the cost of a co-pay. Essure was developed by Mountain View-based company Conceptus.

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