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Women Speak Out about Essure Birth Control Problems

Angie Derry and Rachel Long are among the ranks of young women who’ve experienced debilitating complications with the Essure birth control device – a tiny spring coil placed inside the fallopian tubes. Both women were sold on the purported benefits of this miracle contraception – one that took the hassle of daily pills and hormonal side effects out of the equation.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune News, Derry began suffering from a host of mysterious ailments, including pelvic pain, low-grade fever, cramps, joint pain, tingling, hair thinning and severe fatigue. “It’s the only thing that makes sense,” says Derry, whose myriad medical tests have revealed no definitive diagnosis. “My doctors are grasping at straws.”

Long’s complications were even more crippling. After she had Essure implanted her life turned into a living nightmare, with pain so horrible she was admitted to the ER three times in less than one week. Positive that her problems were caused by Essure, Long’s hunch was hard to back up, as her doctors remained uncertain. Racked with persistent joint pain, kidney and heart problems, Long – at just 34 years old – ultimately decided to have the birth control removed, which entailed a hysterectomy.

“I had to have my insides removed and make the decision to live or die,” Long told ABC News.

Since it’s challenging to remove the coil once it’s been in place for more than three months, Rachel Long and others had to resort to an invasive surgery – and lose their fertility – because of their Essure problems.

Essure birth control background

Manufactured by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Essure has been available since 2002, and has been used in some 750,000 women. Once in place inside the fallopian tubes, the coils stimulate tissue growth, which blocks sperm and prevents unwanted pregnancy. Though the medical community says that Essure risks are comparatively low, 435 women have had surgery to remove the device due to unwanted complications.

Common Essure problems reported by patients include:

  • Chronic pain (joints, back, pelvic region)
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Device migration
  • Allergies to nickel plating on coils 

Unfortunately, the stories of Rachel Long and Angie Derry are not uncommon – this past year, the FDA received 500 adverse event reports regarding Essure, and more than 1,000 have been logged since 2002.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects for victims of Essure complications is Bayer’s present immunity from any legal liability. When the device was cleared for sale in 2002, the FDA granted Essure preemption status, which means that consumers who are harmed by it aren’t able to sue the manufacturer. Now, injured women are speaking out to raise awareness and hopefully prevent others from being harmed.

Social media campaign highlights Essure risks and side effects

“We are marching against the whole medical field it seems and telling them this has happened to us, this is real,” Rachel Long told ABC News.   Reaching out via social media, there are more than 5,000+ members on the “Essure Problems” Facebook page, with more than 100 new women joining every week.

Activist Erin Brokovich is also trying to get the preemption approval status removed from Essure so that those who’ve suffered harm can pursue legal action for damages. Bayer continues to defend its product, promoting Essure as having a “well-documented risk-benefit profile.” However, the company is slated to amend the Essure brochure to include that in rare cases coils can migrate into the lower abdomen and also list chronic pain as an uncommon side effect.