OB-GYN Discusses Essure Controversy and Dispels Common Birth Control Myths

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Tens of thousands of women say they suffered pain and serious allergic reactions from using Essure.

Its a medical device meant to serve as a permanent birth control option.

The FDA has placed a black box warning on the product and asked the manufacturer, Bayer, to go back and re-evaluate its data.

The Essure device is made up of coils.

And as OB-GYN Dr. Heather Sandness-Nelson explains, those coils are made of nickel and steel, which can cause allergic reactions.

She adds, “Generally it’s not to an amount that they would find to cause an allergic reaction but some people were finding that they were having allergic type reactions to the coil. And I think the biggest concern is that results that they were finding in clinical use and practice, differed from what they were seeing when they were doing the trials.”

Dr. Sandness-Nelson says this will take a long term study that may not be available for several years. 

There are many myths when it comes to birth control.

Women are often concerned about taking birth control long term, and wonder, at what age are you supposed to stop using it?

Dr. Sandness-Nelson points out that everyone’s needs and risks are a little different.

She says it’s important to take your entire health history into account, especially when looking at long term birth control options.

But there is some form of birth control that will work for the majority of women as long as they need it.

Dr. Sandness-Nelson explains, “Most women: if you are healthy, if you are a non-smoker, if you are at a healthy weight, if you have no other medical conditions, it is feasible to continue contraceptive therapy, albeit certain ones, until the age of the onset of menopause. Which is in women, on average, 50-51.”

She also stresses the importance of your individual health profile.

Before deciding on a birth control, women are advised to discuss any other medications they are taking 
and any medical disorders, with their doctor. 

Some women often skip their monthly cycle by not using the entire pack of their oral contraceptives. 

Dr. Sandness-Nelson says it’s not overall harmful for women to skip the placebo pills at the end of their birth control pack and go straight into the next set of active pills.

She says generally the worst side effect is simply spotting.

In fact, she says there are certain situations where doctors actually advise their female patients to skip their cycle for months at a time. 

Dr. Sandness-Nelson adds, “Continuous birth control or continuous OCP use, which is always being on the active pill and never taking the placebo, is found to be likely just fine. Long term studies will have to tell us whether or not there are any effects.”

She says the body can adjust and get used to skipping your cycles, it will fall into a pattern.

If it does cause any discomfort, she says you can always take a break and decide to take the placebos. 

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