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I'm Starting to Wonder If My Birth Control Is Hurting Me

Photograph by Twenty20

I had no idea until news broke last year that there were so many serious issues related to the birth control device known as Essure. I got it after my daughter was born, so that I could undergo a uterine ablation, which I desperately needed. Before doctors would perform this procedure, I had to have some form of permanent birth control in place, which would assure doctors that I wanted no future pregnancies.

After discussing several options, I decided to go with Essure. It sounded great. No surgery. No need to replace down the line. Best of all, no more worrying about birth control. Ever.

But as Jennifer Block explains in her recent investigation in the Washington Post of the device—and complications women have experienced after having Essure implanted—there would be worry. About my health and my life.

For several years, I experienced ever-worsening problems with my menstrual cycle. Many could easily be attributed to my age and the process known as peri-menopause.

As a woman approaching 50, I have never thought to question much of what I have been going through:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular periods
  • Mental fog
  • Migraine headaches
  • Mood changes

Many women much younger than me have been experiencing these symptoms and more since getting their Essure implants. In my case, they could very easily be explained by hormonal changes. I have never thought to question them.

For several days, I am barely able to function.

The FDA approved Essure almost 15 years ago. It's a flexible metal spring that your OB-gyn inserts into each fallopian tube. Scar tissue grows around the device and, after few months, the tubes are blocked, which prevents eggs from coming into contact with sperm and being fertilized.

What cannot be explained by going through the "change of life," however, is the severe, debilitating low back pain I experience with each menstrual cycle. It is not cramps. I've suffered from those ever since puberty, and this is completely different.

Jennifer Block's recent piece investigation into Essure in Washingtong Post piece

For several days, I am barely able to function. My husband always asks what I did to myself, assuming it is an injury from my description and location of the pain and my lack of mobility. My young daughter asks repeatedly, "Mommy, are you going to be OK?" Seeing me incapacitated is disturbing for her. It freaks her out to watch me in pain, but I am unable to hide it. Nothing I do to try to alleviate the pain helps. Once my period has ended, it subsides.

Until the next cycle, whenever that may be.

While my issues are mild compared to what some others have experienced, they have been growing steadily worse.

Speaking of my period, for the first several years after my ablation, I experienced nothing more than spotting. Then, I began to have heavy periods again. Something I didn't even think was possible following the procedure.

I am significantly bloated. All the time—not in an Aunt Flo is coming or I ate too many fatty foods kind of way. And when I do have my period, I feel as if I am going to explode from the inside out. Intense pain and pressure in my pelvic area.

After learning about the FDA decision and all the woman who have experienced problems with the device, I am questioning these symptoms and whether they could be related to Essure.

While my issues are mild compared to what some others have experienced, they have been growing steadily worse. I'm going to be seeing my doctor. This time, I'll be the one asking questions. I want whatever scans are necessary to determine where my Essure implants are.

I'm not going to assume Essure is the cause of my issues. Nor will I assume it isn't. But I will press for answers.

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