How did I make the decision to get sterilized? Up until about a year ago, not having children was something that I didn’t think much about, other than to try to explain to my two now ex-husbands that the financial situation wasn’t stable enough or that I wanted to wait until I had a permanent, full-time job. During the past year, though, my significant other and I have made the decision to commit to a childfree life.
I have health issues that make being on hormonal birth control extremely risky, and my significant other has health issues that really should not get passed on to another generation. We were both raised with stricter parents, which is the way that we would want to raise our children if we wanted to have them. That brand of parenting is no longer considered acceptable, since the norm is now to raise children to believe that they are entitled to everything. We were both outsiders growing up, and I do not want to make the child go through what I had to go through to feel accepted.
The biggest reason of all, though, is finances. We both have good-paying, full-time jobs, plus we have a hobby farm. He has a nice house that we live in, and I have a nice vehicle to drive. Our finances, or rather, our debts, simply don’t allow for us to have children. Accepting welfare money is something we are not willing to do, and we aren’t willing to change our lifestyle to have children. With these factors in mind and after much discussion, the decision was reached: I would get sterilized by way of the Essure procedure.
The nurse practitioner that does my annual Pap exam referred me to one of the gynecologists in her department for the Essure consultation. This consultation took about an hour, and the gynecologist discussed the procedure in detail, outlined the advantages, disadvantages, and risks, discussed my medical history and my life in general (the process I went through to reach this decision). I informed the gynecologist that I had thoroughly researched all aspects of this procedure, including going to a dermatologist a few weeks earlier to get a nickel allergy test (the coils contain nickel, and since nickel allergies are common, the Essure pamphlet recommends getting testing done first). We also discussed birth control to use in the interim period from that day until after I get the HSG confirmation test done three months after the coil insertion. He recommended a birth control pill which would keep better control of my cycle and make the uterine lining thinner, thus making coil insertion easier. Being on hormonal birth control pills for another few months was fine with me, so he set up a four-month prescription for me.
In addition, he set up three one-dose prescriptions for medications that I would need to take shortly before the procedure to relax the body and control pain during the procedure. This discussion/interview was conducted in a very non-judgmental, practical, and caring manner by the gynecologist and his staff. At the end of the consultation, I signed a waiver document expressing my understanding that the procedure is irreversible, and then we scheduled the procedure for the beginning of the following month.
To simplify scheduling the procedure, before I went to the consultation, I printed a calendar and made note of the days that my significant other would be off work and brought it with me to the appointment. When I did my research on Essure, I learned that I would be prescribed pain medications would make me incapable of driving, so I made sure that I scheduled it for a day that my significant other wouldn’t be working. In addition, I made it a point to schedule it for a Friday, so that I could have two days of recovery time without having to schedule more vacation days besides the one I took for the day of the procedure. In short, I tried to get the practical matters sorted out before going to the consultation appointment.
One hour before the procedure, I took two of the three medications the gynecologist had prescribed. We were asked to arrive at the doctor’s office 30 minutes before the procedure to get a pregnancy test done, and at that time, I took the third medication. I was then taken back to the exam room. After disrobing from the waist down, I was waiting on the exam table. As the medications started to take effect, I had a feeling of calmness and a comforting warm feeling in my stomach. The gynecologist came in with two of his nurses to assist. He gave me an injection of a relaxant in my cervix, which he warned me was going to hurt. It did not feel like an injection; I didn’t really feel anything until the medicine started to work its way through a few seconds after he did it. And suddenly, I felt pain… it felt like the absolute worst menstrual cramping I had ever had plus a little more. That pain lasted about two minutes, and when the pain subsided, the gynecologist proceeded to insert the coils. I felt the coil being inserted into the left Fallopian tube (pressure, definitely not pain), but I didn’t feel anything in the right side Within what felt like less than five minutes after getting the injection in the cervix, the gynecologist said, “Ok, all done,” and he took his gloves off. He proceeded to tell me that this was one of the easiest and problem-free Essure coil insertions he had ever done. I couldn’t believe it was already over. They let me take the time I needed to get my bearings (for me, it was about 10 minutes), and the nurse walked me out to the waiting room where my significant other was waiting. She reminded me to call back to schedule the follow-up HSG confirmation test, and then we were out the door.
The HSG confirmation test is done three months after the Essure procedure to confirm that the body has built up enough tissue around the coils to block the Fallopian tubes, thus rendering the patient sterile. Contrast dye is inserted into the uterus, and if no dye enters the Fallopian tubes, the Essure procedure was successful, and the back-up birth control method can be stopped. If the HSG shows incomplete blockage, then a follow-up HSG will be done at the six-month mark. I have not scheduled the HSG yet, but I intend to schedule it for four months after the procedure, due to my work commitments. My gynecologist said that was ok, and he will extend my birth control prescription accordingly.
Part two to this article will come after I have my HSG confirmation test completed.