Female sterilization has traditionally been done with tubal ligation. This is a surgical procedure where the fallopian tubes are cut and tied to keep eggs released from the ovaries from reaching the uterus. By comparison, Essure is a small metallic implant that is placed into a woman’s fallopian tubes. Unlike other sterilization procedures for women, no incision or general anesthesia is required.
A tool called a hysteroscope is inserted into the vagina and through the cervix. The tool allows the doctor to see inside of the uterus. A thin tube is used to thread the Essure device through the vagina, uterus, and then into the fallopian tube. This procedure is repeated to implant a second device into the other fallopian tube. The procedure causes pain in some women, but it is likely that pain is less than with other forms of permanent sterilization.
Essure implants work by causing scar tissue to form over the implant. The scar tissue permanently blocks the fallopian tube and prevents fertilization of the egg by the sperm.
Women must use an alternate birth control method for three months after the procedure. This will allow the scar tissue to grow. At the three-month point, the doctor checks to make sure that the device has been properly placed, and that the scar tissue has fully blocked the fallopian tubes. This is done with an injection of dye into the uterus followed by an x-ray. If implantation was successful, alternate contraception can be discontinued. In some cases, implantation is not successful.
The Essure device is 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy. Pregnancies that do occur after sterilization are more likely to be ectopic pregnancies, which occur outside the uterus and can be life-threatening.
Other risks associated with Essure include:
Essure is not the right procedure if you:
Talk to your doctor to find out if Essure is a good option for you.
US Food and Drug Administration
The Canadian Women's Health Network
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Duffy S, Marsh F, Rogerson L, Hudson H, Cooper K, Jack S, et al. Female sterilisation: a cohort controlled comparative study of ESSURE versus laparoscopic sterilisation. BJOG. 2005;112:1522-1528.
Essure System—P020014. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DeviceApprovalsandClearances/Recently-ApprovedDevices/ucm083087.htm. Updated September 5, 2013. Accessed July 29, 2014.
Female Sterilization (Essure). Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/stlouis/female-sterilization-38378.htm. Accessed July 29, 2014.
Sterilization for women and men. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq011.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120818T2151049198. Published August 2011. Accessed July 29, 2014.
When your family is complete, choose Essure. Essure.com website. Available at: http://www.essure.com/documents/whatisessure/pib.pdf. Published 2009. Accessed July 29, 2014.
Last reviewed July 2014 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 7/30/2014