Essure Lawsuit: The Health Risks and Benefits of Contraceptives
For women who want to prevent or delay pregnancy, contraceptives can be an ideal solution. From daily pills to long-term implants, contraceptives give women and their partners the ability to decide when—and if—they get pregnant.
While often the subject of political and religious controversy, contraceptives are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. More than 99% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have used at least one contraceptive method, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 60% of women of reproductive age currently use a form of contraceptive. Some of the most common types include male condoms, hormonal birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and permanent sterilization. And there is a good reason for their popularity. When used properly, contraceptives can be incredibly successful in safely preventing pregnancy. IUDs, for example, are around 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Contraceptives are particularly popular among young women and their partners, who might not feel ready to raise a child, as well as among women who already have children but do not want more. Many other use contraceptives for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. Certain methods can help combat issues like heavy or painful periods, endometriosis, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
But like any kind of medication or medical device, contraceptives are not always without risks.
Essure Device Complications
The most recent contraceptive concerns involve Essure, a type of permanent birth control manufactured by Bayer. When inserted into a woman’s fallopian tube, polyethylene terephthalate fibers in the device cause a buildup of scar tissue. This blocks off the fallopian tube and prevent eggs from traveling to the uterus. It has been on the market since 2002.
Like many types of contraceptives, Essure has side effects like cramping, bleeding, and nausea. But for some women, the consequences were far beyond normal. Some woman experienced severe back and pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, perforation of their fallopian tubes and other organs. Some women with severe complications required emergency hysterectomies, a procedure which removes the uterus. Overall, the FDA received over 16,000 complaints about the device. This lead to tighter regulations, such as doctors being required to show a list of potential risks before insertion. Finally, in July, Bayer announced that it would stop selling the device entirely.
Mirena, Yaz, and Other Problems
Essure isn’t the only type of contraceptive with health risks. Mirena, an IUD also manufactured by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, has been the subject of several lawsuits. They claim that the company knowingly sold a defective device that led to organ perforation, ectopic pregnancy, and discomfort. Some types of hormonal birth control pills, like Bayer Pharmaceutical’s Yaz, have been linked to serious health issues, including an increased risk of blood clots, while others have been recalled for manufacturing errors that could lead to unintended pregnancy.
Contraceptives are supposed to put people’s mind at ease, not make their health concerns worse. But when companies act negligently or irresponsibly, contraceptives can put women at risk. Do you research and talk to a doctor before trying out any type of contraceptive.
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