16th March 2011 | Professor Ellis Downes | Obstetrician & Gynaecologist | The Portland Hospital
For women whose families are complete, a new form of permanent birth control now available at The Portland Hospital may be the right option. Here Consultant Gynaecologist Professor Ellis Downes talks about the advantages.
Once you’ve had children and you are sure your family is complete, permanent birth control is a good option for many women. It means they no longer have to think about temporary contraception or taking hormones to prevent a pregnancy.
Until recently there were really two forms of permanent contraception – a vasectomy for men or tubal ligation (tying the tubes) for women. While largely effective, both of these options involve invasive surgery.
There is now a new minimally invasive option for women, which has recently been introduced at The Portland Hospital. Essure Hysteroscopic Sterilisation has all the benefits of permanent birth control but without the need for invasive surgery, a general anaesthetic and an overnight hospital stay.
Using pioneering technology, Essure works with your body to create a natural, permanent barrier against pregnancy.
Soft, flexible micro-inserts - made from polyester fibres, nickel-titanium and stainless steel (materials that have been used in medical devices such as cardiac stents for years) - are implanted by a gynaecologist in the Fallopian tubes.
This can be done through the body’s natural pathways – through the vagina, cervix and uterus - so there are no cuts, burning or scarring to the skin and it does not require a general anaesthetic.
Women can choose to have it performed under a local or general anaesthetic and will be back to their normal lives within a day. In fact the procedure, which takes less than 10 minutes, can be done as an outpatient and most women can go home within an hour of having it done.
Once in place in the fallopian tube, the body reacts to the inserts causing a natural barrier in the tube which blocks the sperm and egg from meeting and conception occuring.
This process takes about three months and to make sure the tube is fully sealed, women must have a scan to confirm that you can rely on Essure for permanent contraception. Until then, another form of contraception must be used.
Women who undergo the Essure procedure still ovulate but, because the egg is not fertilised, it is naturally absorbed by the body.
Unlike oral contraceptives, rings and certain coils, Essure does not contain hormones so your period should more or less continue in their natural state.
Possible side-effects include cramping, discharge, light headedness and mild nausea or vomiting. However, these tend to be mild and only last a day or so.
Worldwide, Essure has already been used by 435,000 women and doctors for over 10 years and is approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
Trials found the Essure procedure was 99.8 per cent effective and in four years of follow-up data not a single pregnancy has been reported.
The one thing women must remember is that this is not a reversible form of contraception so they must be absolutely sure they have finished their child-bearing days before they go ahead.
For further information on this procedure Professor Ellis Downes, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital, can be contacted on 020 7935 7341.