Essure Procedure Offers Women a New Form of Birth Control
MADISON - When a woman reaches a certain point, she has a big decision to make. She's given birth to all the children she's planning to have, and it's time to discuss permanent birth control options with her partner and her doctor.
In the past, a woman's options would have begun and ended with tubal ligation, a surgical procedure in which a doctor severs and ties off a woman's Fallopian tubes, forever closing the pathway through which eggs travel to the uterus to be fertilized.
These days, doctors at UW Health offer a choice that's less invasive: It's called Essure, an outpatient procedure that can take as little as 10 minutes per tube to complete.
Using local anesthetic and a hysteroscope, doctors insert a spring-like device that contains a small amount of nickel and dacron into the Fallopian tubes. Over the next several weeks, the insert causes the skin tissue in the Fallopian tubes to grow together, sealing off the tube.
Erik Wait, MD an OB/GYN at UW Health's Fitchburg Clinic, has been performing the surgery for the last two years, and notes that the Essure insert is gaining popularity as womens' awareness of it grows.
"When I mention that this is an option for them, most of my patients react very favorably."
In the past month, 70 percent of Wait's patients considering sterilization surgery have opted for Essure over tubal ligation. Currently, the procedure is performed at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics' outpatient surgery clinic, but Wait hopes to eventually be able to offer it in the general clinic setting.
"I think it's a safer, more effective method," says Dr. Wait. "It certainly causes less discomfort for the patient."
While tubal ligations can now be performed using minimally invasive techniques, patients tend to recover more quickly with the Essure method. While the tubes are growing closed, it's recommended that women remain on their birth control regimen for three months, then come back in for a follow-up examination to be sure that the procedure has worked effectively.
Date Published: 02/29/2008