Common Questions About Essure
Whether you’re learning about permanent birth control for the first time or visiting our site for the hundredth time, you probably have questions. Take a look at some of the frequently asked questions our Essure counselors have received.
What is Essure?
Essureis a proven, non-surgical, hormone-free permanent birth control procedure that works with your body to prevent pregnancy.
How effective is Essure?
Essure is 99.8% effective,* the highest of any form of permanent birth control.
See how Essure compares to other forms of birth control.
How long has Essure been available?
Approved by the FDA in 2002, Essure is trusted by more than half a million women and their doctors worldwide.
What are the benefits of Essure?
Essure is the most effective* permanent birth control available, offering benefits no other birth control ever has:
- No surgery—the simple, ten-minute procedure can be performed in the comfort of a doctor’s office
- No slowing down to recover
- No anesthesia necessary
- No hormones—a more natural birth control method
- Peace of mind—your doctor will confirm when you can start relying on Essure for permanent birth control
- Trusted by over half a million women and their doctors since 2002
- Covered by most insurance providers
*Based on five years of clinical data.
About the procedure
How does Essure work?
An Essure-certified doctor places soft, flexible inserts into each of your fallopian tubes through the natural pathways of your vagina and cervix. There is no incision necessary. The tip of each insert remains visible, so your doctor can confirm that placement is accurate.
Over the next three months, your body works with the Essure inserts to form a natural barrier within your fallopian tubes that prevents sperm from reaching your eggs. You must continue to use another form of birth control during these three months.
After three months you’ll take an Essure Confirmation Test to confirm that the inserts are in place, your tubes are fully blocked and you can begin relying on Essure for permanent birth control. Learn more about how Essure works.
What are the inserts made of?
The silicone-free inserts are made of a polyester fiber, nickel-titanium and stainless steel alloy. These are the same trusted materials that are used in heart stents and hundreds of other medical devices (e.g., heart valve replacements, blood vessel grafts and abdominal repair).
I think I have a nickel allergy. Can I still get Essure?
True nickel allergies are not as common as many people think. A good test is whether your skin reacts to the metal rivets in Levi’s® jeans, which are made from nickel. The amount of nickel released every day by an Essure insert is very, very small—less than one-thousandth of the amount in the average daily food intake. In the Essure clinical trials, no adverse reactions to nickel were reported. But if you have questions about a possible nickel allergy, talk with your doctor before scheduling your procedure.
Is the procedure painful?
Some women report mild discomfort or cramping, similar to a normal monthly cycle during or after the procedure.
What are the risks or considerations?
As with all medical procedures, there are risks and considerations associated with Essure:
- No form of birth control should be considered 100 percent effective.
- Not all women will achieve successful placement of both inserts.
- During or after the procedure some women report mild discomfort or cramping similar to their normal monthly cycle.
- Side effects during or immediately following the procedure may include mild-to-moderate cramping, nausea/vomiting, dizziness/light-headedness, bleeding and/or spotting.
Is the procedure safe?
Yes. The Essure procedure has been trusted by over half a million women and their doctors since 2002. The silicone-free inserts are made from the same proven materials that have been used successfully for many years in heart stents and other medical devices. Moreover, Essure enables you and your partner to avoid the risks and discomfort of surgical procedures like tubal ligation and vasectomy.
Is it covered by insurance?
Essure is covered by most health insurance providers. If the procedure is performed in your doctor’s office, the cost may be as low as a simple co-pay, depending on your insurance plan.
Is Essure easily reversible?
No. Like other forms of permanent birth control, including tubal ligation and vasectomy, Essure should not be considered reversible. It is for women who are certain that their family is complete.
After the procedure
How much time will I need to recover from the procedure?
Most women go home within 45 minutes of the Essure procedure and return to normal activities in less than a day.
Will I still get my menstrual period? How often? Will it be different?
You will still have your normal menstrual period. Some women report slightly lighter or heavier bleeding than usual, but these changes might result from discontinuing hormone-based birth control such as the Pill and returning to your normal cycle.
If you’ve experienced pain or heavy bleeding with your period over the years, ask your doctor about what treatment options are available to you.
Could the Essure procedure cause me to gain weight?
Since Essure does not contain hormones, it should not cause weight gain.
What is the Essure Confirmation Test?
The Essure Confirmation Test is a test performed three months after the procedure. A special dye is introduced into your uterus, then viewed on an x-ray to confirm that the inserts are in place and your fallopian tubes are fully blocked. Once you receive verification from your doctor, you can start relying on Essure for permanent birth control.
Do I need an Essure Confirmation Test?
Yes. The Essure Confirmation Test not only verifies that your fallopian tubes are completely blocked, but also that the Essure inserts are properly in place. Therefore, until your doctor performs the test and confirms that you can begin relying on Essure, you should not consider yourself protected from unplanned pregnancy and must continue to use another form of birth control.
Comparing permanent birth control methods
How is the Essure procedure different from having your tubes tied?
Tubal ligation, also known as “having your tubes tied,” is a surgery. The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia in a hospital operating room. Recovery time is 4-6 days.
The Essure procedure is not surgery. It can be performed in your doctor’s office and requires no general anesthesia or incisions. Most women return to normal activities in less than a day. Essure also has a confirmation test that lets your doctor verify that the inserts are properly in place and your fallopian tubes are fully blocked. Tubal ligation does not. Compare Essure to tubal ligation.
Are there risks or complications associated with tubal ligation?
Because incisions are made in the abdomen and the laparoscope is inserted blindly into the abdomen, complications may include infection; bleeding; damage to blood vessels, nerves, or muscles; damage to the bladder, uterus, or bowel requiring surgical repair; blood clots; failure of the procedure resulting in pregnancy; and, in rare cases, death. Additionally, tubal ligation requires general anesthesia, which is also associated with certain risks.
What are the risks associated with the general anesthesia required for tubal ligation?
Negative reactions to general anesthesia may include nausea, slowness of the anesthesia to wear off, a sore throat if a tube is used during general anesthesia, seizure or heart attack, high temperature, confusion and death.
How is the Essure procedure different from a vasectomy?
Vasectomy is a permanent birth control surgery for men. Essure is a non-surgical permanent birth control procedure for women.
Vasectomy is a surgery in which the doctor punctures or makes an incision into a man's scrotum and cuts the vas deferens. Its ends are burned or clipped closed. A vasectomy takes about 15 to 30 minutes, and recovery is usually about 2-3 days. The man may also need to apply ice packs to the scrotum and wear an athletic supporter for several days to prevent swelling and bruising. With a vasectomy, it is recommended that a sperm test be performed three months after the procedure and repeated every ten years.
By contrast, Essure is non-surgical permanent birth control. The simple Essure procedure is performed in a doctor’s office in under ten minutes. Most women go home within 45 minutes and return to normal activities in less than a day.
What are some risks and complications associated with vasectomy?
There is a small chance of pregnancy, even many years following the procedure. Additionally, complications may include bruising on the scrotum, infection of the incision/puncture in the scrotum, painful testicles (epididymitis) and granuloma, small lumps caused by sperm leaking into the surrounding tissue in the scrotum.
How is Essure different from other permanent birth control inserts?
There is another permanent birth control procedure that, like Essure, is performed in your doctor’s office and does not involve either cutting or hormones. However, it differs from Essure in several ways. It uses energy to create the body’s response. The insert is smaller than the Essure insert, and therefore requires very precise placement and blocks a smaller area of the fallopian tube. It was only recently approved by the FDA, while Essure was approved in 2002. Plus its short-term pregnancy rates are about 10 times higher than those of Essure. There is no available data about its effectiveness beyond three years. Compare Essure to other birth control inserts.
*Based on five years of clinical data.