Roberto M. deCastro, MD

A “Vasectomy” for women?

Posted by:
February 5, 2015

Finding and using effective contraception has always been a tricky proposition for women. For generations women had little access to effective contraception and depended on their partners to help them avoid conception during sex, usually with little success. With the development of the oral birth control pill in 1960, women finally had the ability to control their own fertility. Since that time there have been numerous innovations in female contraception with the advent of lower dose pills, patches and vaginal rings. There are hormonal shots and implantable hormonal rods which prevent pregnancy. New designs in IUDs have made long acting contraception safe and accessible to most women.

While contraceptives are an excellent choice for many women, options for permanent contraception have been traditionally more difficult for women to obtain. Surgery, either open or laparoscopic, has been required to tie, clip, cut or burn the fallopian tubes in order to block them. Surgery required hospitalization, IV’s, general anesthesia, and surgical incisions which left scars in the abdomen. Surgery also entailed risks of damage to blood vessels or the intestines which could rarely be life threatening.

Sterilization procedures for men on the other hand have been much more simple. Vasectomy is usually performed in an urologist’s office, performed quickly and safely under local anesthesia. Recovery is generally relatively quick. For years women have wanted a procedure that was similarly effective, permanent and safe, in other words, a “vasectomy” for women!

That day has arrived. The Essure tubal occlusion procedure was approved by the FDA for the permanent occlusion or blocking of the fallopian tubes in November 2002. Since that time over half a million Essure procedures have been performed world-wide. The Essure procedure can be performed in our office, without an IV or general anesthesia. The procedure itself takes only a few minutes to complete and is virtually painless. The procedure involves the use of a hysteroscope, a narrow instrument passed through the cervix from the vaginal opening with a speculum. The hysteroscope has a camera which allows your doctor to see inside your uterus to the openings of your fallopian tubes. Once these are seen small inserts are placed into the tubal openings. These inserts are made of a polyester core with tiny stainless steel and nickel coil supports. Once placed the procedure is done and a woman can return to her normal activities in a few hours!

Over the next 3 months the body develops scar tissue formation around the insert which blocks the tubes permanently. This blockage is confirmed with the Essure Confirmation Test at 3 months. Once confirmed in this way, the Essure provides the highest rate of effectiveness (99.74%) making it significantly more effective than vasectomy or surgical tubal ligation.

In short, the Essure Tubal Occlusion method is a true breakthrough for women who desire a non-surgical, non-hormonal, safe and secure method of permanent contraception. If this appeals to you, please feel free to contact any of the doctors at NW Women’s Clinic for a consultation regarding this option.

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