Thousands of women report problems with Essure

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- We have a warning about a method of birth control hundreds of women say is ruining their lives. It's marketed for women who are done having children.

Essure is permanent, but many women say it's also permanently debilitating.

According to the marketing, Essure, a non-surgical, hormone-free, permanent birth control for women who have a family and don't want any more kids, is 99-percent effective.

This is how it works: tiny metal coils are implanted in the fallopian tubes, inserted by your gynecologist in the doctor's office. Your tissue grows into the metal coils, blocking conception.

"Sounded like a good thing to me. I mean, I've got a busy life. I've got five kids," Crystal Plumlee, who chose Essure because it was the most affordable, effective option, said.

"It's not worth it. It might seem easier, but it's not worth it in the long run," she added.

Plumlee now has joint pain, chronic fatigue, weight gain, irregular heavy menstrual cycles, and debilitating headaches.

"There are some people who are having success with it. But I would not want to gamble that. I'm not a gambler. Unfortunately, this is something I gambled with, and I've made one of the biggest mistakes of my life," she said.

"When you stand up, it feels like someone's taking your muscles or your insides and trying to pull them apart," Sarah Payne said. "It would take me to the floor."

Payne has Essure...and migraines, hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss, and severe pain. She called her doctor and others to report the trouble when she first got Essure  four years ago. They have all suggested a hysterectomy.

"'And then we're going to put you on bio-identical hormones,'" she repeated. "All I could think about was, 'More pills.'"

There are thousands of women begging the FDA to pull Essure off the market. They've come together on Facebook, posting pictures and sharing nightmare stories about their side effects.

Many have Essure coils that have migrated, cutting through internal organs in other areas of their bodies. They call it E-hell.

Several hundred of them have also gotten pregnant after Essure, with E-babies, as they call them.

"So we have a device that's intended to be permanent birth control, but women are getting pregnant on it," famed activist Erin Brockovich said.

She joined the fight because, in what is perhaps the most surprising part about this whole issue, none of these women has any chance at a lawsuit against the makers of Essure.

The company that invented Essure, Conceptus, is now owned by Bayer. Conceptus claimed they did rigorous testing before releasing their permanent birth control implant. They got what the FDA calls pre-market approval, pre-empting future lawsuits.

Women who have injuries because of Essure have no way to get compensation from the company.

"It's profits over people," Attorney Noble McIntyre said.

He's an expert in this area of the law, and has been watching the complaints against Essure pile up.

"What the FDA says is, that if a product has gone through that level of pre-market approval and all the testing and all the literature, we the FDA say it's safe. We approve it for use. Then that company has a product that is pre-emptive from litigation. Essentially exempted. You cannot sue them," McIntyre said.

According to the FA, about 750,000 women have the Essure implant, and 943 have reported an adverse side effect. The FDA took a closer look at the reported problems, and found no evidence those problems were caused by Essure.

In a video statement, Bayer said, "Essure was approved by the FDA in 2002 and has more than a decade of research and development behind it. And it does what it is intended to do: provide an important alternative to tubal ligation. The fact is that the adverse events that have been reported on the news and online about Essure are known and are listed in the Essure product information."

Bayer stands behind their product, and that's why 11,000 women are working to get the word out about the way they've been affected by Essure.

"We need people to know this is a danger. Don't do it. We have to look out for ourselves, and that's all there is to it. Us women need to look out for ourselves," Plumlee said.

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