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Permanent birth control solutions for women

By Victoria Fryer 

For myself and other childfree women that I know, we often wish we could just push a button and turn off our reproductive systems. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy—so we use other methods to make sure we don’t end up with an unplanned pregnancy. When the time comes to look into more permanent solutions than, say, the pill or an IUD (which don’t agree with all women), the options are regrettably limited.

I know that women who wanted to have children but are unable to might have mixed feelings about our desires to ‘turn off’ our reproductive systems. I understand that this is a complicated issue, and I would be unable to adequately address its complexity in this article. Please know that I am sensitive to it, though.

Most popular is the tubal ligation, or “getting your tubes tied.” Many women choose this option after their last pregnancy, since they’re in the hospital anyway. But for those of us who aren’t having children at all, it can be somewhat of a bigger deal. The “open” tubal ligation requires abdominal surgery—an incision in the abdomen. Doctors are now able to do tubal ligations through laparoscopy, though, which only necessitates a much smaller incision.

Another option gaining in popularity is the tubal implant, such as Essure. This involves placing an implant into the fallopian tubes to block them permanently. While this procedure doesn’t involve general anaesthesia and can be done in your OB/GYN’s office, the implants can be difficult to insert and place correctly.

At this time, Essure is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved, non-surgical, permanent birth control method—but in the news recently is that they’ve scheduled an open hearing to reevaluate the product’s safety. Claims against the procedure include constant pain, bleeding, perforation of the fallopian tubes or uterus, weight gain, and more.

About eight years ago, I had an IUD put in. Though I kept it for about four years, I did not react well to it. Insertion was extremely painful—partly because I had not had any children and IUDs are generally meant for women who have—and I had pain at various times throughout having it. After the device’s removal, I vowed to never have a foreign object put in my body again, if I could help it (even if that is slightly less than rational…). And a tubal ligation seems a bit, I don’t know, extreme. It’s a surgery, after all.

Have any women out there gone through either a tubal ligation or insertion of Essure? I would love to hear your experiences.

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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