Name: My name is Tina and I was implanted with Essure in December 2015. Before the procedure, I was not given any information about a risk of painful sex or long-term pain. I was reassured that the procedure was simple and was not offered any sedatives and only minimal (over the counter strength) painkillers. It seemed like a good option for me, as I had previously had the coil (uncomfy) the diaphragm (allergic to the spermicidal cream) and the pill (felt I was needing something more lasting).
Like a tiger trying to eat me from the womb out…
Essure Procedure: As I entered the procedure room I was surprised to find five members of healthcare staff there, including the two doctors who were going to be implanting the device. The experience of implantation was literally torturously barbaric. I felt every millimetre of the device and it’s delivery mechanism’s movements within my womb, and each movement was excruciatingly painful. My vital signs dropped and I started to lose consciousness. In order to prevent this and keep working on me, the procedure chair was tilted back until my head was lower than my heart, and I was given an oxygen mask. I felt more pain than I experienced with two vaginal births and found myself wishing I was dead – anything to make the pain stop. I can only describe the pain and my body’s response as being as if a tiger were trying to eat me from the womb out, and my body wanted to shut down my consciousness in an effort to protect me from the extreme pain.
During the procedure, I heard the doctors say to each other than the second device had not gone into my left fallopian tube. I was left with the knowledge that I had gone through a horrific procedure for nothing, as I would not be made sterile by one device. I came out of the procedure room and into a recovery room, where I remained on oxygen and in a lot of pain for another hour. I left the hospital unable to walk properly because of the pain and looked as white as a ghost.
Post Procedure: In the weeks that followed, I suffered from post-traumatic stress. I would burst into uncontrollable tears and felt deeply distressed by what had happened and what had been done to me. The term “medical battery” felt apt.
During the following month, the initial pain I had experienced in the days after implantation did not improve. I experienced pain constantly, and any attempts to have sex were aborted due to the levels of pain and distress that I felt. The pain in my abdomen was with me from first thing in the morning until last thing at night, and if my young son woke me in the night, the pain was the first thing I was aware of.
Essure Removal: I had asked (while in the recovery room) if I could have sedation and better pain relief, were I to return to have the second device fitted, but I concluded that to put myself through such a horrific experience again would do my mental and physical health no good. Faced with a device that was causing pain and giving me no benefit (in that it would not sterilise me), I insisted that the device be removed. I sent a detailed and carefully worded letter to the two doctors involved demanding that they arrange for the removal of the device. I did not ask for my fallopian tubes to be removed, only the devices – as I knew there were doctors in the UK who had experience of this.
One of the doctors met with me and offered to remove both fallopian tubes, to take away the one device and make me sterile. Although I had not asked for my tubes to be removed, they were not willing to refer me to another doctor and I went ahead with the proposed surgery, with the reassurance that my ovaries would be retained and my hormones would not be affected.
I was stunned that I had been misled about the outcome of the procedure
Mismanagement of Care: Following bilateral salpingectomy, in March 2016, I was told that both devices had deployed appropriately, as one Essure coil was found in each of my fallopian tubes after their removal. I was stunned that I had been misled about the outcome of the procedure and that no checks had been carried out to see what was where and whether or not two devices were in place. Some five months after the operation I became very ill. It was discovered that I had an insidious, invasive staph A infection, that had come about as a result of the operation. I was so ill that I was unable to care for my children or to work, and eventually, I was put on 16 antibiotics/day to resolve the infection which had seen my abdomen swell as though I was five months pregnant.
I complained to the NHS and subsequently to the Public Services Ombudsman about the poor quality of care and mismanagement of my treatment. The POS found in my favour on two out of the three complaints I made.
Effects of Removal: It is now two years on since the removal of the devices and my healthy fallopian tubes. The reassurances I was given about my hormones have proved to be false, as I was catapulted into the menopause like I had hit a brick wall. I have since learned that 44% of women only receive a blood supply to their ovaries via the fallopian tubes, and a further 4% receive only a very small blood supply for an additional artery. This means that 44% of women will experience an impact on hormone production following the removal of Essure by bilateral salpingectomy, as organs without a blood supply with atrophy and die. For doctors to pretend otherwise and mislead patients is cruel and harmful. I was left not knowing what was causing the symptoms I started to experience, because of the false reassurances I’d been given.
Early Menopause: The impact of early menopause can have an effect on women’s lives in many ways. For me, the extremely sudden and dramatic onset of irritability, sleeplessness, skin itching and rage were the worst features. I have no idea how much damage will be done to my cardiovascular health and bone density as a result of early menopause. For younger women, in their twenties and thirties, who have gone through premature menopause as a result of Essure removal I can only say that my heart breaks for them and their families and that their lives, their health and longevity have been harmed.
Lasting Pain: As a result of Essure, and the removal operation and subsequent infection, I have been left with abdominal adhesions which make bowel movements uncomfortable and at times painful, the adhesions also make sex uncomfortable and I experience pain on orgasm. I have to take painkillers before and for two days after penetrative sex, to make it tolerable. I want to be able to enjoy sex with my husband; this is after all why I had Essure in the first place.
Essure Survivors: I want to make it clear: before Essure I had no pain and no issues with my hormones, I was working for myself, happy with my life and not prone to emotional upset. After Essure, infection and the removal of my tubes, I have been left with a host of distressing problems, none of which are my fault.
I, and the other women just like me, were being responsible by taking charge of our fertility and seeking out a solution which we were told would be ideal for us. Had the risks of post-traumatic stress disorder, further surgery, likely infection, damage to fascia, internal adhesions, and a future life of pain and discomfort been shared with me, I would never have agreed to go ahead with this procedure. I understand that 1 in 6 women who have received Essure have had additional procedures or surgery as a result, and 30% of women who have been implanted with Essure have reported problems with the procedure, the devices or both.
Legal Action: As a result of the mismanagement of my care and the appalling practice of Essure implantation, I am taking legal action against BAYER and the NHS.