Spring-Loaded Birth Control -- Research Summary
BACKGROUND: Each year, about 700,000 women will have their tubes tied to prevent pregnancy. While this procedure is highly effective, it does require surgery, and recovery can be relatively long. During the surgery, doctors close the fallopian tubes, which stops the egg from traveling to the uterus from the ovary. It also prevents sperm from reaching the fallopian tube to fertilize an egg. Fallopian tubes are cut, burned or blocked with rings, bands or clips. The procedure is permanent and can be performed under local or general anesthesia. After surgery, doctors usually recommend that women take two to three days off and only perform light activities for one week.
AN EASIER OPTION: Now, some doctors around the country are performing an easier procedure for women who want permanent sterilization. The Essure procedure was approved by the FDA in 2002, and about 1,000 doctors across the country offer it to their patients. Unlike the standard tubal ligation surgery, the Essure procedure does not require incisions. It also does not involve cutting, crushing or burning of the fallopian tubes. This procedure can be performed without general anesthesia.
HOW DOES IT WORK? To prevent pregnancy, doctors place a spring-like insert into a woman's fallopian tubes. Once the spring is inserted, surrounding tissue creates an inflammation response. Tissue eventually grows around the springs and blocks the tubes, which prevents pregnancy. It takes about three months before women can fully rely on the procedure as a method for permanent birth control. The Essure procedure is a permanent solution and is not reversible. Steven McCarus, M.D., from Florida Hospital Celebration in Orlando, Fla., performs the procedure. He says, "The implant [spring] is embedded to the opening, so it is really impossible to remove it. It's not a reversible procedure, and it would require another surgery to actually remove it."
SUCCESS RATE: In one study, 192 women relied on the Essure procedure for contraception for one year, 177 relied on it for two years, and 172 relied on it for three years. In another study, 434 women relied on the procedure for one year, 403 relied on it for two years, and 21 relied on it for three years. None of the women in either of these studies became pregnant during the one- to three-year follow-up. Researchers believe the procedure is close to 100 percent effective, but they warn, just like with other methods, there is always a chance that women could become pregnant. One reason for this is doctors could not successfully place both inserts during the first procedure in about one out of every seven women studied. Also, since the procedure is relatively new, researchers do not have any data beyond the three-year follow-up.
RECOVERY: Recovery from the Essure procedure is quick. The procedure itself only takes 35 minutes to perform. Doctors say almost all women can resume normal activities in 24 or less after the day of the procedure. The majority of women who were studied returned to their normal activities in one to two days.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.
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