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Health Team

New Procedure Makes Birth Control Permanent

Posted December 12, 2007 5:10 p.m. EST
Updated December 12, 2007 9:43 p.m. EST

— Many couples who don't want children, or any more children, used to have limited permanent birth control options. Now, there's a new procedure.

The options used to be a vasectomy for men or a tubal ligation for women. The surgery for women is done laparoscopically, and full recovery takes about two weeks.

More women, however, are turning to a newer procedure that can be easier and offers better results.

Leann Katowitz has three kids with no plans for more. For permanent birth control, she considered tubal ligation.

“Well, I’d met two soccer moms in one season who’d had one that failed, so I really didn’t want that,” Katowitz said.

She also didn't like the idea of surgery, so she came to Dr. Lisa Roberts, a gynecologist, for a non-surgical procedure called Essure.

“This procedure is the only permanent birth control procedure that does not involve an incision,” Roberts said.

Roberts performed the procedure in her office with little or no anesthesia. Roberts works through the vagina with a hysteroscope that has a camera on the tip.

“It involves take a very small, flexible device and inserting it into the openings of the fallopian tubes,” she said.

A coil is inserted, and it expands expands to block the tubes. Over three months, body tissue grows into the coil.

“Patients can usually return to work either later that afternoon or the next day,” Roberts said.

Katowitz said she experienced a little cramping, but otherwise had no problems.

“It was quick. I think I was home an hour later, maybe less,” she said.

The procedure is not reversible, and studies have shown women 30 years old and younger tend to regret decisions for permanent birth control.