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What is Essure?

Essure is a form of permanent, irreversible sterilisation for women, sold by pharmaceutical giant Bayer.

An intact Essure implant

 

Essure’s big selling point is that it’s inserted via the vagina and the womb (hysteroscopically) and therefore is not considered surgical. Insertion can be done whilst the patient is awake.

Essure works by blocking the fallopian tubes, preventing fertilisation of eggs. Two inserts are fitted, one in each fallopian tube. Essure looks like a small spring, and has a core of man-made fibres (made of PET). These fibres are designed to cause irritation and inflammation of the surrounding tissue, eventually creating scarring around the implants which causes a complete blockage of the fallopian tube.

How Essure blocks tubes

Insertion is done non-surgically, so there’s no external scarring, and in theory this minimises the risks of infection. A camera is used to help position the implants. Local anaesthetic is used, often in the form of an injection to the cervix, however this varies depending on the implanting surgeon, local NHS protocols, and the patient.

Because it’s considered non-surgical, patients do not need an overnight stay in hospital, so Essure in theory is a better option for the NHS than traditional forms of sterilisation such as tubal ligation.

A disintegrating Essure implant under the microscope. That messy, hairy looking stuff is PET fibre which won’t show up on X-ray.