You could say that men have had it relatively easy regarding birth control over the years. No pills that affect their hormones and blood pressure, no implants that cause heavy bleeding or discomfort and if they wanted a permanent solution to birth control then there was always the vasectomy, a simple operation will hardly any side effects. Women on the other hand cannot say the same thing and their choice of permanent birth control has been limited to an operation that involves major surgery to have the Fallopian tubes either burnt shut or clamped with a small clip. The operation usually requires a week long stay in hospital and there are complications which include heavy bleeding, irregular monthly cycles and a one in 200 chance of pregnancy which is more likely to be ectopic.
However, this may be all a thing of the past as a new method which involves no anaesthetic, no cutting and a simple technique which involves inserting two minute spring like implants could prove to be a viable alternative for women seeking to be sterilised. The procedure takes around 20 minutes and uses a thin telescope which is inserted into the neck of the womb where it can locate each Fallopian tube. Then a button is pressed on the telescope which releases a spring that is lodged permanently into the tubes where it causes fibrosis to occur. This, over time, causes scar tissue to form which effectively blocks the tubes from releasing any further eggs. The leading researcher – Mr Farrugia has been testing this method for over 10 years and is a keen advocate. One of the first UK women to undergo this treatment was Laura Dawkins who had previously had three children. She had the method known now as ‘Essure’ after dismissing several other forms of contraception. After the operation she felt well enough to have a cup of tea and was released from hospital after half an hours recovery time.
Apparently more than 95% of patients who have had the Essure method are able to return to work within 24 hours of the operation. This saves the NHS money as beds are not taken up with recuperative care. The failure rate with Essure is around 1 in every 1000, a lot less than the traditional methods of permanent sterilisation techniques. Although the Essure method costs £2,900 privately, Mr Farrugia says that the long term cost implications should be comparable. “A lot of NHS hospitals compare the cost of Essure with the cheaper clip method but this is short sighted because with this method the patient is spared a lot of time and money and isn’t taking up space in an NHS bed.” As for Laura Dawkins, who had the procedure on February 14th, she said it was the ‘best Valentines Day gift ever’.