Before You Make The Essure Procedure Decision

Essure Decision. Photo © 2014 Dawn Stacey

Deciding whether or not it's time to seek permanent birth control is a major life decision. It may be helpful to know that voluntary sterilization is the most popular birth control methods in the US. Whereas men only have the option of a vasectomy for permanent sterilization, women can choose between a tubal ligation, a surgery that closes off a woman's fallopian tubes (having your tubes tied), or a non-surgical permanent birth control procedure, like Essure.

If you’ve already decided that permanent sterilization is the way to go, the next thing to decide is whether the Essure procedure may be the right choice for you.

What is The Essure Procedure?

The Essure procedure offers women a permanent birth control solution without hormones, cutting, or the risks of tubal ligation. FDA-approved in 2002, the Essure procedure requires no incisions. Two small metal springs (known as micro-inserts) are placed in each fallopian tube through the cervix. In about three months, the coil implants will trigger scar tissue to grow around them. The scar tissue will permanently block the tubes. The Essure procedure is done without surgery or anesthesia and takes between 10-30 minutes. It’s typically performed in a doctor’s office and doesn’t require an overnight stay.

Essure vs. Tubal Ligation

A tubal ligation requires surgery, whereas Essure does not.

With Essure, a small insert is put into each fallopian tube through the vagina, cervix, and uterus. Tubal ligation is usually done as a laparoscopic procedure under anesthesia. A small incision, about half an inch long, is made in or below the belly button (sometimes, a second tiny cut may be made above the pubic hairline).

Gas is used to expand the abdomen, and the fallopian tubes are blocked with either rings, clamps, clips, cutting away part of the tube, or sealing them shut with an electric current. Stitches or staples are then used to close the incisions.

Remember, Essure is Permanent Birth Control

When making your decision about Essure, it is important to point out that the Essure procedure is not reversible. Although it may be possible to reverse a tubal ligation, the Essure procedure cannot be reversed. Essure is literally a permanent birth control method. The Essure procedure may be right for you if you are certain you don't want any more children and you want a female sterilization method that does not require surgery or anesthesia.

Effectiveness of Essure

The effectiveness of your contraception is likely an important consideration in your birth control decision. Three months after your Essure procedure, your doctor will perform a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test to confirm that the micro-inserts are properly placed and that the fallopian tubes are fully blocked. You will need to use a back-up birth control method during this time.

Once the Essure procedure has been confirmed by the HSG, Essure has been found to be 99.95% at 1 year. It is 99.83% effective based on 5 years of clinical data and is the only birth control method with zero pregnancies in clinical trials.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding About Essure

  • Am I worried about general anesthesia?
  • Would I feel comfortable using a permanent birth control method?
  • Am I tired of worrying about unplanned pregnancy?
  • Do I want to have my tubes tied but do not want the surgery and incisions associated with typical tubal ligation procedures?

When the Essure Procedure May Not Be the Right Decision

If you might want to have children in the future, the Essure procedure may not be right for you. You should also not undergo the Essure procedure if you are pregnant, have been pregnant during the past 6 weeks, and/or have an active or recent pelvic infection.

Essure may also not be the right choice if you're feeling pressured by someone else to have the procedure. Also, because the Essure procedure is a major decision (as it can't be reversed), you shouldn’t make this choice if you’re under stress or in the middle of a major life change (like after a miscarriage or during a divorce).

Hearing Other Women’s Essure Stories

Hearing other women’s stories may help clarify your own thoughts. It may help to talk to other women or read testimonials of women who have had the Essure procedure done. You can also talk to your doctor or read what physicians have to say about Essure. Doctors need to be certified to perform the Essure procedure, so it could be helpful to talk to an Essure-certified doctor.

US Olympic skier Picabo Street had the Essure procedure in December 2009 and former Bachelorette Trista Sutter underwent the Essure procedure on in July 2009. Both of these celebrities are openly sharing their Essure stories.


Conceptus Inc. Essure Website. Accessed March 1, 2010.