Ten women who claim they suffered serious side effects from the permanent birth control device Essure gathered at Fox 2 News in St. Louis to share their experiences with the contraceptive as part of a push to ban the device.
“It’s a shame what so many women have to go through to get someone to listen to them,” said one woman through heavy tears.
Each of the women recounted the symptoms they developed after being implanted with Essure. Symptoms ranged from rashes and infections to chronic pain, and abdomens so swollen they looked six months pregnant. For some women, the device has punctured fallopian tubes or the uterine wall, or become embedded in other organs. After having the birth control insert removed – which for eight of them meant having a hysterectomy – their symptoms went away.
“If I didn’t have kids, I would have probably wished to have been dead, some of the pain I went through,” another woman said. She had a hysterectomy to remove the insert 11 days before the interview, at the age of 26. “I feel refreshed. I don’t think that’s normal (after a hysterectomy),” she said.
Essure, made by Bayer Healthcare, is the only FDA-approved non-surgical permanent birth control method. It consists of two nickel coils that are inserted into the fallopian tubes where they create a scar tissue barrier that prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. Since Essure was approved in 2002, the FDA has received more than 5,000 complaints.
In September, the FDA launched a safety review of Essure, during which several women who say they were harmed by Essure testified and urged the agency to ban the device. They are also asking that the government lift the preemption that protects Bayer from lawsuits from women injured by the device.
The FDA is expected to issue its recommendations regarding the Essure permanent birth control method later this month.