While this page uses the terms women and woman, not only those who identify as women require access to women’s health and reproductive services. For example, some transgender men, non-binary people, and intersex people or people with variations in sex characteristics may also require access.
What is Essure?
Essure is a permanent contraceptive medical device for women. It was withdrawn from the UK market by the manufacturer in 2017.
Essure is no longer offered in the UK.
How does Essure work?
The Essure device is a flexible metal coil placed inside each of the tubes to the ovaries. It causes scar tissue to form. This tissue blocks the tubes to the ovaries to prevent pregnancy.
The device usually did not require an operation for insertion. It could be placed through the vagina and guided into the fallopian tube.
What is Essure made of?
The device is made of a number of materials including:
- synthetic fibres
- stainless steel
What has been the experience with Essure?
The Essure device has been effective contraception for many women without causing side effects or complications.
However, there have been reports of significant side effects and complications in some women.
Complications and side effects
The main complications and side effects reported by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) include:
- persistent abdominal, pelvic or back pain ranging from mild to severe
- changes in menstrual bleeding (including significant heavy bleeding and clotting)
- the device moving outside the fallopian tube into the abdomen
- the device cutting through the fallopian tube and into other parts of the body such as the bowel or bladder
- allergy to some components of the Essure device causing a range of symptoms such as rash or hypersensitivity (when the body reacts with an exaggerated immune response to a substance that it perceives as foreign)
- unintended pregnancy, including ectopic pregnancy
Some women also reported:
- weight changes
- hair loss
- mood changes such as depression or anxiety
What should I do if I’m worried about Essure?
Speak to your GP if:
You’ve had the Essure device inserted and you’re worried about side effects or complications.
Your GP will be able to talk about your concerns with you. If necessary, they can refer you to hospital to see a specialist.
You may find it helpful to bring a diary of your symptoms to the appointment to support the discussion.
You should report any complications or adverse events you’ve experienced to your clinician. They’ll then report it to to the Incident Reporting and Investigation Centre (IRIC).
IRIC is Scotland’s specialist national safety and risk management unit. It’s responsible for investigating incidents involving medical devices. IRIC work in partnership with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Can the Essure device be removed?
The device was designed to be permanent. Removal of the device usually requires an operation. A specialist gynaecologist will be able to advise you of the risks and benefits of removal.
If the device is not causing significant side effects or complications, the MHRA highlights the manufacturer’s advice. This is that there’s no need for women to have their device removed. It advises that there’s currently no evidence to suggest any increased risk to patient safety.
The MHRA will continue to assess whether its advice should be changed in future. They’ll do this through continued monitoring of emerging data. This will include the findings from an ongoing study on the Essure device being carried out by the FDA in the USA. The study is due to complete by approximately 2024.
There are also websites and support groups run by women who have experienced complications with the Essure device. You may find these helpful.