Warning – This post talks about female reproductive organs and contraception. If you don’t like reading about that stuff, go away.
I’m taking the opportunity to write about my experience with the (somewhat infamous) Essure implants.
If you’ve found your way here after googling Essure either before or after you’ve had the operation, firstly, don’t panic.
DO NOT PANIC. It’s the worst thing you can do. I know there is a crap-tonne of information out there and just about all of it bad, and my own story isn’t that great either. That being said, I wanted to relate my experience because all I could personally find were horror stories.
Like many gynecologist’s have done, my doctor suggested tubal occlusion, aka an Essure implant, because it was a quick and simple procedure and something that I could have done while I was getting another medical issue seen to.
On the face of it, Essure implants sounded awesome. No requirement to put me under a general anaesthetic, I didn’t need to go to hospital to get it done as there was no need to open me up surgically, recovery time was two days at most as opposed to a couple of weeks for a tubal ligation. Because I am fat (my doctor had the good grace to call me “cuddly”) she said that it would be the easiest option for us both. I couldn’t disagree – being overweight does come with it’s own complications when it comes to medical procedures. But it all still sounded great.
That was pretty much all that was told to me about the procedure and the implants. I got a brochure detailing how the implants worked and was sent on my merry way.
For those not in the know, a tubal occlusion is where two tiny spring coils are fed into the fallopian tubes. This causes a natural reaction within the body and the irritation from the coils causes scar tissue to form around the coils, thus providing a natural block in the fallopian tubes that stops the egg delivery process from the ovaries. The name of these coils are called Essure and they are made by Bayer.
When I went back almost a year later, my doctor was still happily recommending the implants but she did tell me that there was some sort of action against them in the United States. She then explained that she used to just do an x-ray at the three month mark but since there had been questions about it’s effectiveness, I would need a different procedure that involves being turkey-basted with dye to be sure that the fallopian tubes were blocked. So I just thought it had something to do with their effectiveness.
Sounds good, right? Here’s where it went pear-shaped for me.
My situation deviated from the norm in this regard as I had to get another small procedure called a LLETZ or large loop excision, which did involve being admitted to hospital as a day patient. My doctor did both procedures during the same admission so I was put under a general anaesthetic rather than just being done in the chair. All went well on the day, and I was out of hospital within five hours – most of which was actually spent waiting for my turn and recovery afterwards.
After going home from the hospital I was a little exhausted and a little bit sore, though I am certain that was from having way too much going on up in my privates for one day, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.
Two days after the procedure I actually felt worse that I did when I came home from the hospital. Yes, it hurt but it wasn’t so much an “ouch” as it was a constant, intense ache in my lower abdomen. Every now and then there would be a horrible pinching that I could feel somewhere from within and it was extremely disconcerting that I couldn’t reach the area to rub it better. It was the weirdest, most unpleasant sensation I can ever remember experiencing. This feeling increased to a weird pulling-like sensation and that’s when I started to realise I could feel these things inside me. The mental damage that did was almost as horrific as the pain I was in.
My Recovery After Essure
I was told that I would be down for a couple days at most.
Here’s what actually happened.
Day 1 (after procedure): A little spotting, nothing serious. Moderate discomfort but nothing a regular headache tablet couldn’t dampen. Was more tired from my usual crappy reaction to the anaesthetic.
Day 2: More discomfort, pain in my lower back and still experiencing spotty/gritty discharge though this was from the LLETZ loop, not the Essure implants. Looked up “essure” on Google and proceeded to have a meltdown.
Day 3: Increasing discomfort. Not spotting but lots of watery discharge. Again, this was most likely my reaction to the loop, not the Essure implants. Still very upset by what I found online.
Day 4: Post op pain diminished and back pain gone but I was still feeling uncomfortable and sore. Noticed a weird smell at that point and took myself to the doctors and was prescribed a general antibiotic.
Day 5: Back at work, however sitting for long periods of time became uncomfortable. The horrible pulling sensation starts. Emotional/mental distress increases a thousand fold as I had read even more what Google had to say about these fucking implants.
Day 6: Mild spotting starts. Discomfort remains high and steady. Had to go home from work early. AGAIN.
Day 7: It still hurts to sit for long periods of time and the weird pinch/pull sensation increases when I move around too much.
Day 8 to Week 2: Bleeding increases. Pain still as it was. Constant, tiring. Starting to become a little despondent and, frankly, frightened as hell at what I had allowed to be done to my body.
Week 3: Bleeding seems to be on the rise. We’ve gone from spotting to proper bleeds but at the end of the day. This makes sense, as it could be from increased activity, but it is very concerning as I shouldn’t be bleeding at this point at all. (Still on the active contraceptive pill, too.)
Week 4: Ok, I might have had sex a couple days before I should have (I had to wait for my cervix to heal completely which was horrible, particularly when you quite like your boyfriend) but I was more toey than a Roman sandal and needed physical reassurance that I was still desirable and that my bits still worked. Answer; I am and they do. I was happy. But the day after I still had the bleeds. And the hurting was still very much happening if I walked around for too long… or coughed. This prompted a call to the gyno for a follow up appointment.
At that appointment I was told that my cervix looked awesome (yay, I suppose) but that it smelled like I had an infection. I also explained about the bleeding too and was given medication for both. As I was still in pain, she referred me on to have an x-ray to make that the implants were where they needed to be and also have a blood test to see if anything serious needed addressing. The results from both of those were clear.
Week 5: Round one of medication taken and the infection seemed to clear up. The pain had definitely improved too so I get the impression that it might have had something to do with the Essures at this point. STILL bleeding heavily though.
Week 6: Started taking the non-active contraceptive pills and let nature take its course just in case it was my period breaking through as the gyno suggested. HOLY SHITBALLS, the cramps… That was new. I sometimes get horrible cramps but this was something else.
Week 7: Period finally finishes but still spotting. ARGH! It stopped towards the end of that week.
Week 8 to present: NO BLEEDING. NO PAIN!
Yes, it took eight. fucking. weeks to recover from this procedure and I still have to go back sometime soon to get that final examination done.
EDIT: Actually, my pain and symptoms became much worse. Check out the Essure update I wrote.
What I Found On Google About Essure
I won’t repeat what I found but very little of it is good. The only positive testimonials to be found are on the Essure website itself which, frankly, I find dodgy as fuck. I discovered that I had been sold on something that is swiftly proving to be dangerous.
What is most frightening was the sheer number of women who have come forward to say that they are or were unwell and in pain and needed full or partial hysterectomies to get rid of both the implants and the pain they caused.
Hell, even Erin Brockovich is in on it – she’s running the class action. EDIT: SHE’S NOT AND THEY ARE NOT. ESSURES HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE MARKET IN ALL COUNTRIES EXCEPT USA. As of this update (9th March 2018), Slater and Gordon are considering a class action for Australian women.)
Am I angry at my doctor for not having told me these things? YES. Yes, I am. Very much so.
Am I upset that I didn’t turn to Google first to do my own investigations before getting the procedure done? Yes, I am. If I had seen this information beforehand, I would have simply opted for tubal ligation and just dealt with the recovery process. Buyer very much beware.
Would I recommend this to anyone? No. No, I wouldn’t. Certainly not based on my experience. Eight weeks is a lot of time to be in pain and to be bleeding. Now I have the added stress of wondering what is going on inside my body at any given time, if these things are going to move or break, if I am bound for a lifetime of recurring infections, if I will be in pain again if I start a serious regime of exercise, IF I WILL GET PREGNANT – WTF?!
Let me just reiterate that I got these things put in because I didn’t want to get pregnant and wanted a hormone-free method of long-term contraception.
So far, these things have not made my life any easier. I am yet to see if they are going to make it horribly difficult.