New Birth Control

When the pregnancy with her third child had complications and sent her to bed for 13 weeks, Holly Smith knew she shouldn’t get pregnant again.

At first she considered a tubal ligation, but then she heard about a new procedure being offered by Dr. David Soll, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist at the Woman’s Clinic. The procedure, called Essure, involves placing a small, flexible device into each of the fallopian tubes. Over a three-month period, body tissue grows into these micro-inserts, thus blocking the tubes and making it impossible for sperm to fertilize an egg and cause a pregnancy.

Smith became the first patient in Tennessee to have the procedure at a clinic. It took Dr. Soll 11 minutes to do the procedure and Smith was headed for home an hour later. “It was less invasive than a tubal ligation and required no recovery time,” she says. “After giving birth, the last thing you want to worry about is pain and discomfort while you’re trying to take care of a newborn and other children at home.”

The procedure is so simple and so effective that Dr. Soll calls it “the future for women’s health care in family planning.” In technical terms, it is called a hysteroscopic tubal ligation because the physician goes through the cervix and into the uterus to place the devices into the fallopian tubes. With no incisions, no scars form afterwards.Based on data over a four-year period that was submitted to the FDA, women who had the Essure procedure had a 99.8 percent birth control rate with no pregnancies. Since Essure results in permanent birth control, Dr. Soll says, “we just have to make sure that the woman is a good candidate, that she doesn’t want to get pregnant again.”

The procedure requires no anesthesia. Patients take Motrin the night before and the day of the procedure and an anti-anxiety medication an hour ahead of time. A local anesthesia deadens the cervix.Three months later, patients return to the clinic for an X-ray to make sure the scar tissue formed around the micro-inserts and blocked the fallopian tubes.

Smith is fortunate, she says, that the procedure was available just when she needed it. A certified nurse midwife and nurse practitioner, Smith and her husband, Mike, have three children: Maloree, 9, Tanner, 5, and Preston, who was born October 2, 2005. She started going to Dr. Soll after seeing how he interacted with his patients. “He is one of the most thorough, personable physician that I have met,” she says. “He takes his patient’s lives personally.”

Dr. Soll first did the Essure procedure as part of FDA clinical trials during his residency in Arizona. He is pleased, he says, that women now are getting better choices for permanent birth control with less risk. He compares it to a vasectomy for men. “It gives women a viable opportunity to take charge of their contraceptive health. I’m very excited about it.”