The Ministry of Health recognizes the secondary effects caused by the Essure contraceptive, that stopped being commercialized in Spain in 2017 because it causes serious sequels in the affected women. That's why he has facilitated a protocol to help doctors identify and treat the complications arising from its use. According to the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS), 962 women who have it implanted have reported adverse effects. Although the platform of Affected Free of Essure speaks of almost 2,000 harmed. "And the ones that will come out," says Carolina Hernández, one of the coordinators, as she climbs the ministry staircase. AEMPS itself estimates that around 80,000 Spaniards have one.
For the members of this group, this is the first victory of a battle they started three years ago, when they created the platform. Hernández is 46 years old and comes from Bilbao. Drink coffee along with four other women on the platform on a terrace about 20 meters from the Ministry of Health, in Madrid, where this Tuesday they have met with the minister, María Luisa Carcedo, to talk about that "hell" that is the Essure. "Infections, swollen belly, abundant rules, hemorrhages, fatigue and pain, especially pain," indignant list. One of them explains that these symptoms are shared by 80% of the women to whom this contraceptive makes their existence bitter, and to whom they came because it is the alternative to tubal ligation. "Essure was the method without effects and without problems," says Hernández, who implanted it when he was 37 years old.
The protocol that Health has launched has been developed together with the Spanish Society of Gynecology and has counted on the testimonies of those affected so that the symptoms can be identified. Carcedo has not specified the exact date on which the guide will be published, but has assured that it will be soon. The text will be available on the AEMPS website so that doctors and health centers can follow it and it will also be sent to the autonomous communities.
The platform demands that responsibilities be assumed, because "the damage is already done". The Health Guide, which updates a 2016 protocol of the AEMPS, introduces a novelty: a CT scan should be performed if the device, a kind of spring that blocks the fallopian tubes, is not detected by ultrasound. Some women have had to undergo surgery twice because "the pier splits and moves to the uterus", they count from the affected platform, something that leaves it unused. In addition, they complain that due to the lack of knowledge of the doctors the withdrawal of Essure is not carried out effectively, which in some cases entails the loss of the entire reproductive system.
Those affected have struggled for years. "The worst thing is that many doctors tell us that we are crazy when we tell them the effects, ridicule them and reduce them to whether we are happy or if we are fat," they all agree. And Susana Vázquez, another of the coordinators, warns that, after the progress made on Tuesday, the next step is for Bayer, the laboratory that sells Essure, to recognize these side effects. In Spain, the National Court opened in July the criminal proceedings against the pharmaceutical.
The minister reiterated that women who manifest the serious side effects of the contraceptive should go to their doctor to be removed in an operation that will cover the National Health System. "There are cases in which doctors have ignored them and have had to resort to private healthcare," says Vázquez. And clarifies that the intervention costs around 7,000 euros.