Phoenix woman says birth control procedure is making women sick - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Phoenix woman says birth control procedure is making women sick

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Toshmika Ward said doctors told her if she had any more children, she could die.

So after the 33-year-old Phoenix woman had her fifth child - following a high-risk pregnancy - she decided she needed a permanent form of birth control.

"The doctors did tell me that if they'd done a regular tubal, it would have been a two week stay in the hospital," said Ward.

Instead of having tubal ligation surgery, Ward followed her doctor's recommendation and went with Essure.

According to the company's website, it's an in-office procedure where coils - made with polyester fiber, nickel-titanium and stainless steel alloy - are inserted into a woman's fallopian tubes.

The scar tissue that forms is supposed to prevent pregnancy.

"The procedure took an hour in the office and then I went home," Ward said.

That was four years ago.

Ward said she began having a variety of health issues six months after the procedure.

"I have severe dizzy spells, nausea, vomiting," she said. "I have pain my abdomen, in my lower abdomen, migraine headaches, excessive sweating, insomnia."

The list of her symptoms goes on and on - and Ward is not alone.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, which approved Essure in 2002, more than 700 complaints have been filed.

However, a 2007 follow-up study found, "Although there is evidence of complications ... this study did NOT demonstrate any new safety problems or an increased incidence of problems already known."

The FDA said most of the reported side effects include abdominal/pelvic pain, hemorrhage, perforation and tissue damage.

The most reported device problems include migration of the coils and patient-device incompatibility.

In other words, some patients might be allergic to the nickel in the coils.

"I really think the FDA needs to do something - needs to step in and help us all because it's only going to get worse as more women get implanted," said Ward.

Indeed, there is a growing community of women who say their health has gone downhill since having the Essure procedure.

A closed Facebook group called "Essure Problems" has more than 1,700 members.

Another Facebook community page has more than 1,800 members.

And, consumer advocate Erin Brockovitch has a website that is posting women's horror stories, a link to file a complaint with the FDA and a petition to enable a class-action lawsuit.

So far, nearly 2,700 people have signed it.

"Usually I'm in bed, close to tears or in tears," said Ward about her life since having the Essure procedure. "Pain pills don't work."

Ward said she has seen more than 10 doctors in the last four years.

She has yet to find one willing to perform the surgery required to remove the coils from her fallopian tubes.

"Right at this moment, I'm willing to take the invasive surgery if it'll make me feel better," said Ward.

Bayer, the company that manufactures Essure, maintains the product is a safe and effective form of permanent birth control.

Its website notes that more than 600,000 women have had the procedure.

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