I’d been searching for a reliable method of permanent birth control.
Then my gynaecologist told me about a contraceptive implant called Essure.
He explained it was a metal coil, inserted into the fallopian tubes to generate scar tissue, which stops sperm reaching the egg.
‘The best part is it’s just day surgery with virtually no recovery time,’ he said.
It sounded perfect.
The procedure went smoothly and Ididn’t give it any more thought.
But two years on, after a lifetime of good health, my world came crashing down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
‘I have no family history,’ I cried to the doctor.
My doctor seemed baffled too, but explained cancer can strike anyone at any time.
Thankfully I survived, but only after a full mastectomy on my left breast.
Then a few years later, I started feeling really sick every day. I suffered from chronic pelvic and back pain, excruciating cramps and constant fatigue.
I was also extremely anxious and depressed.
‘I’ve never experienced anything like it before in my life,’ I confided in my friends.
‘You’re just getting older, it happens to the best of us,’ my friend assured me. ‘It’s probably just menopause.’
My deteriorating health took a toll on my marriage, and I ended up getting divorced.
To make things worse, I started falling behind at work due to feeling so sick all the time.
It feels like I’m being poisoned, I worried, but all my tests came back normal.
The cramping intensified then took a dark turn in 2017 when I suddenly started bleeding heavily from my vagina. It wouldn’t stop, so Ihad to go to hospital.
‘You’ve suffered a major haemorrhage, Julie,’ my doctor explained.
I couldn’t understand why all these awful things were happening to me.
But then, in September last year, I was watching a documentary called The Bleeding Edge.
It revealed the hazardous implications of the Essure contraceptive implant, and suddenly, it all clicked.
‘Oh my God. That’s what I have!’ I cried out in shock.
I started to think about how rapidly my health had declined over the past nine years since I had the implant.
After telling my doctor, I went in for a laparoscopy, where a camera could get a better look at my implant.
To my horror, he discovered the coil had migrated from my fallopian tubes to my uterus.
But I wasn’t prepared for the graphic damage it had done to my insides.
‘What on earth is that?’ I blurted, seeing an image of my womb.
I could make out the oval shape of the organ, but was shocked to see two sharp edges poking out.
‘That’s the implant,’ he said. ‘It’s pierced through both sides of your uterus.’
He explained it would’ve moved from my tubes until it reached the womb, which had been trying to expel it.
‘This explains the haemorrhages and constant cramping,’ he said. ‘No wonder you’ve been so sick.’
I felt cold all over.
It looked like devil horns, which is fitting as the last nine years had been hell.
I ended up having a total hysterectomy.
Doing some research, I discovered that Essure manufacturer, Bayer, discontinued the distribution of it in Australia in August 2017.
I also couldn’t help but wonder if the implant had caused my breast cancer.
I found out that the Essure coil expels PET fibres, which cause inflammation in the body and raise oestrogen levels.
My breast cancer was oestrogen-positive, meaning high levels likely caused it.
Now the implant is gone from my body, I feel better than I have in over a decade.
It stole my career, destroyed my marriage and ruined my life.
Thankfully, I’m like a new woman now. Rejuvenated, I have my mojo back.
This never should have happened with a device that was given to women everywhere.
Now I’m hoping to speak as part of a class action against the makers of Essure.
I’m angry that it happened, but I’m glad I’m feeling back to my old self.
I hope no other women out there have to go through what I have. ●
If you have an Essure implant and are concerned, talk to your GP.
The Class Action
In August 2017, Australasian Medical and Science Ltd and the Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) issued a hazard alert for Essure. In August 2018, law firm Slater and Gordon announced a proposed class action against the device’s manufacturer Bayer, which would follow similar lawsuits in the US, Canada and Scotland. Slater and Gordon said it is preparing to file the Statement of Claim in the Supreme Court of Victoria. The class action will cover all women who had an Essure coil implanted in Australia before December 31, 2018 and subsequently suffered harm as a result of the product. The case is expected to have its first hearing later in 2019.
Essure was placed on the Australian market in compliance with the TGA requirements. While it was on the market Essure was maintained and updated in accordance with all Health Authority requirements.
Bayer discontinued the distribution of Essure in Australia in August 2017 due to a low and declining trend in patient preference for this choice of permanent contraception.