Health Team

Olympic skier seeks permanent birth control

Posted February 1, 2010 11:56 a.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2010 6:34 p.m. EST

— Olympic gold medal skier Picabo Street found a permanent birth control option – both non-surgical and non-invasive – that she thought was too good to be true.

Whether at home or on the slopes, Street has lived a fast-paced life.

Her love of speed and adrenaline made her one of the fiercest Alpine skiers in the world and a gold medalist at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Now, after three children, she and her husband have decided to use permanent birth control.

"We were surprised to find out that we had limited options, and two of which, we were looking at surgery," Street said. "That was something neither one of us wanted to deal with."

Tubal ligation surgery, for example, requires general anesthesia and several days each of preparation and recovery.

Street, though, heard about a procedure called Essure that is non-surgical and non-hormonal. "It won't interrupt your life and take too much time out of your day," she said.

Raleigh gynecologist Dr. Lisa Roberts said the procedure takes only about 10 minutes.

"I would administer a little bit of numbing medicine and then place a soft, flexible insert through the vaginal opening and into each Fallopian tube," Roberts said.

Over three months, tissue grows in around the small coil and blocks fertilization.

Street cautioned that women who choose Essure should be as confident as she was that they don't want children in the future.

"It is irreversible, so couples need to go into it with the expectation that they are not going to have any more children afterwards," she said.

For herself, Street said, the speed of recovery helped make Essure the right choice.

"I bounced back in 10 minutes and was back in my car headed home and making oatmeal for the baby," she said.