Women launch Facebook campaign to push birth control off the market

Doctor Checking Patient

Women are complaining about experiencing cramps, headaches, nausea, and weight gain.

If you’re a woman of childbearing age, you’ve probably tried multiple forms of birth control until settling on one that doesn’t make you feel bloated, pasty, and nauseous. But your birth control struggles are a piece of cake compared to the side effects experienced by the thousands of women using a birth control device called Essure.

What is Essure? According to its website, it’s a “non-surgical, permanent” birth control device for women who don’t want to have their tubes tied but would prefer not to have more children. In essence, it’s a tiny string of medical coils that is inserted into the Fallopian tubes, thus blocking conception.

Although Essure’s website claims the device is “99 percent effective” at preventing pregnancies, the women on the Facebook group Essure Problems think the device is actually 100 percent terrible. They’re lobbying the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get Essure taken off the market, arguing that the device causes joint pain, chronic fatigue, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, migraines, and severe pain, among other side effects.

To be fair, the Essure website includes some of these complaints on its list of side effects, saying women “may experience mild to moderate pain and/or cramping, vaginal bleeding, and pelvic or back discomfort” immediately after having the device inserted. Even so, it appears that the issues with Essure extend beyond the standard boilerplate list of possible side effects for most medications.

One woman who spoke to news station KFOR about how she felt after the device was inserted likened it to “a ripping…someone’s taking your muscles or your insides and trying to pull them apart.” Others have said their Essure coils have “migrated” to other parts of their body, cutting into the tissue of their internal organs. Hundreds of women on the Essure Problems Facebook page have claimed that Essure doesn’t even work, and that they had so-called “e-babies” while using the device.

The complaints about Essure aren’t just from a fringe group or a highly vocal minority: Essure Problems has more than 12,000 members, and has even attracted the attention of professional consumer-rights advocate Erin Brockovich, who set up a separate online support group for those who have had the procedure.

In addition to pressuring the FDA to ban Essure, women are also attempting to sue Essure manufacturer Bayer. Yet the prospects for success in either venture appear limited. Essure is classified as a class-three drug by the FDA, which means that it obtained premarket approval from the FDA, thus preventing anyone from filing suit against its manufacturer. The FDA has also investigated Essure and found that the reported side effects were not severe enough for the device to be pulled from the market.

“Essure was approved by the FDA in 2002 and has more than a decade of research and development behind it. It does what it is intended to do, provide an important alternative to tubal ligation,” a Bayer spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the adverse side effects on the Essure Problems Facebook page “are known and are listed in the Essure product information.”

H/T Cosmopolitan | Photo by Com Salud Agencia de Comunicacion/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.