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In 2009, with two healthy children and a new business she shared with her husband, Amanda Brown knew permanent birth control was the right decision for her—particularly a solution that didn’t involve hormones. She welcomed her doctor’s suggestion to try Essure, a permanent birth control solution that involves inserting tiny coils into the fallopian tubes to block sperm from reaching eggs. The insertion of the Essure coils went flawlessly, with a follow-up visit confirming they were placed correctly.
As the years went by, Amanda started having medical issues, which she simply attributed to growing older. She began to experience heavier than average bleeding and extremely painful cramping during her menstrual cycle that only continued to worsen, frequent migraines, ringing in her ears, hair loss, and allergies she’d never had before. Thinking that maybe it was more than just getting older, she began to search for answers. Throughout her research, however, she never thought her symptoms might be from her Essure coils, even when she started reading about negative patient experiences with the device.
She recalls that time clearly. “I remember when those stories came out, and I even commented to my husband how sad it was that the world had become a place where everyone was suing for everything. Essure was approved by the FDA and recommended by trusted medical professionals; I didn’t think it was at all connected to my medical concerns.”
Then, in 2016, everything changed. While mowing grass, Amanda was bitten by a flying bug—That was the beginning of a three-year odyssey of escalating symptoms that had no apparent cause.
“I just couldn’t seem to get better,” Amanda explains. “I got MRSA in the hospital, then had a bout of bronchitis that progressed to pneumonia and a terrible sinus infection. After having never been sick my whole life, I kept getting worse and worse—my body simply couldn’t fight off the infection. Then the pain worsened, particularly in my neck and back. By now I was taking an entire range of medications, and I was physically and emotionally wiped out. Because my symptoms didn’t involve some of the key issues with Essure, however, but were more systemic, any connection with the device was ruled out. I began to think that no matter how much medication I took or how many tests they would run, we would never find any answers.”
Despite never truly recovering, Amanda still managed to maintain her busy schedule until Thanksgiving, 2018. “Every year, we host family for the holidays, with guests coming in from all over. It’s my favorite time of year, with full days of cooking and preparation, kids running everywhere, the whole extended family laughing and talking. With all the medications I was on, I rarely drank, but I had a few sips of champagne and…I could feel something shift inside me. Within a few hours, I developed a fever of 104 degrees and was rushed to the emergency room again. More tests followed, with no conclusive results. “I began to worry I had cancer, because I knew something was deeply wrong, but every test came back perfectly fine. I was at my wits’ end and so exhausted.”
It wasn’t until early 2019 that a close family friend recommended she see Devin Namaky, MD, a surgeon with TriHealth Women’s Services Advanced Gynecologic Surgery, who listened carefully to Amanda’s story.
“I think that’s what I’ll always remember most,” she says. “Dr. Namaky looked me straight in the eye and wanted to know everything—even if I didn’t think it had any connection with my condition. He asked questions and truly listened, and he didn’t jump to conclusions.”
Dr. Namaky ordered a series of additional testing to rule out possibilities and clarify Amanda’s condition. “To exclude other causes of Amanda’s symptoms, I had her see a neurologist, immunologist and requested allergy testing,” Dr. Namaky explains. “While other medical causes of her symptoms weren’t found, she tested positive for a nickel allergy. We then planned on removing her Essure coils, which are made of nickel.”
Dr. Namaky performed a laparoscopic hysterectomy, which is one way to ensure the coils are removed intact, without any breakage. “It’s critical to ensure that the coils are removed completely, and Amanda didn’t want more children. I recommended laparoscopic hysterectomy with fallopian tube removal, which would also treat her heavy periods. Our team has advanced training in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery to help patients recover quickly and go home the same day.”
Amanda had the coils removed in early April and the results were immediate. “I felt so much better right away,” she says. “The pain diminished to the point where I could manage it with Tylenol and ibuprofen, and the heavy bleeding stopped. I’d also suffered from ringing in my ears and a metallic taste in my mouth for years, and that disappeared too. Suddenly, I could hear the birds again. I no longer needed to take prednisone and ended up losing twenty pounds. I feel like I have my life back with the energy of someone ten years younger.”
Now, several months post-removal, Amanda has resumed all the activities she so enjoyed—from her very active business to preparing to welcome her family again for the holidays. Her advice to women concerned with their Essure coils is simple:
“If you have pain or are getting sick in a way you simply didn’t before, go to your doctor immediately, even if you don’t think your symptoms are related to your Essure coils. Listen carefully and get a second opinion from a doctor that you know will listen to you. When I was at my lowest point in this process, I was in so much pain and the ringing in my ears was so loud, I felt I’d lost my voice. Now I’ve re-found it, and life has never been sweeter thanks to Dr. Namaky and his team.”