Jessica Smith is bitter. She hoped the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would do the right thing and ban the controversial permanent birth control method Essure following the agency’s safety review over injury complaints. Instead, the FDA recommended a black box warning be placed on the contraceptive device.
“You had an opportunity to remove Essure from the market. You blew it,” Jessica wrote on the FDA’s website. Jessica, like tens of thousands of other women who have been implanted with Essure, claimed the implant causes women to suffer chronic pain, infections, allergic reactions and autoimmune problems. In some cases, the device can migrate from its intended position in the fallopian tubes and perforate organs and damage tissue. Some women have had to undergo hysterectomies to have the implant removed.
Jessica’s story is devastating. After giving birth to her fifth child in 2013, she decided she was through having children. She considered surgical tubal ligation, but opted for the non-surgical and less invasive method offered by Essure. Her doctor told her that her recovery would be dramatically reduced.
Nothing prepared her for what would happen next. After the implantation procedure, Jessica came home and began passing large tissue. Her doctor told her it sounded like a normal response. “If that’s normal, why isn’t that one of the side effects listed?” Jessica questioned. The bleeding didn’t stop. In fact, it continued for the next 10 months. She was in constant pain that at times was so intense she couldn’t stand or work.
Jessica made frequent trips to the doctor and emergency department. No one could pinpoint the problem. It was years before she was finally diagnosed with pelvic adhesion disease, a condition in which the reproductive system is fused to the digestive system due to the build up of scar tissue. Her doctor believes the condition was caused by Essure.
Jessica ultimately underwent a relatively unknown surgery known as “Essure reversal” during which the device was removed. Other women harmed by Essure have had to resort to hysterectomies. While thankful to have the device removed, Jessica’s suffering did not end there. The buildup of scar tissue was so bad that she was left with chronic pain. She has had multiple surgeries to remove the excess scar tissue and ultimately removed her uterus.
The process has financially strapped Jessica. In an effort to help raise funds for her medical care, Jessica’s friends held a fundraiser last fall. The name of the event, written in all caps on the marquis of the event venue expressed exactly how Jessica feels about the contraceptive: “F— You, Essure.”