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Article 45 :- Permanent Birth Control- What you need to know about ESSURE

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Micro is not so micro

Micro-insert is not so micro

There are many systems in our human body.  Namely, Integumentary system (Skinhairnailssweat and other exocrine glands); Skeletal system (Bones supporting the body and its organs); Nervous system (Collects and processes information from the senses via nerves and the brain and tells the muscles to contract to cause physical actions); Cardiovascular/Circulatory system (Circulates blood around the body via the heartarteries and veins, delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and cells and carrying their waste products away);Endocrine system (Provides chemical communications within the body using hormones)and; the Muscular system (Enables the body to move using muscles) . That is from Wikipedia. But none of them has been so deliberately tampered with like the female reproductive system in the name of birth control. In a previous article, I have highlighted the carcinogenic effects of the hormonal contraceptives among other general side effects. However, those (contraceptives) have all been classified as temporary since you get into them to avoid pregnancy, and then get off them, and hopefully, you will get pregnant again, and the cycle continues. In the constant search to “treat the reproductive system”, “permanent” methods have been developed. Note; permanent is in quotes, because pregnancies have occurred while on these birth control systems. The main surgical methods listed, according to healthywomen.org, for permanent birth control are tubal ligation and vasectomy. There are also non surgical procedures also called tubal occlusion. This procedure involves inserting a small insert in each fallopian tube. A natural barrier forms around the inserts in about three months, blocking the tubes.  Backup contraception is required until you have your three-month follow-up appointment to ensure the inserts are in place and the fallopian tubes are blocked. That insert is called essure
.

  • What they tell you: – In essure.com they will tell you that Essure is the only permanent birth control you can get with a nonsurgical procedure. It can help you stop worrying about an unplanned pregnancy; that the Essure procedure is usually completed in about 10 minutes and can be performed right in your doctor’s office; that most women return to normal activities within a day or two; that it is non-hormonal; that it is over 99% effective at permanently preventing pregnancy; has been available for over 10 years and is approved by ()FDA; and that is widely used especially in America, Europe and most recently, Australia has started using it and finally that you must continue to use another form of birth control until you receive confirmation from your doctor that the inserts are correctly placed and your tubes are blocked. Only then can you start depending on Essure for birth control. The Essure website also highlights a few complications that may occur which includes puncturing of the fallopian tubes, migration and breakage of the device and chronic pelvic pain.
  • What they don’t tell you:- Essure is a pharmaceutical product and like any other product, it must be marketed at all costs. It is therefore available to teens and any woman who requests for a long term birth control method. The complication with this is that, it is an irreversible process. Once the device is inserted, the only way to remove it is through hysterectomy. According to http://essureproblems.webs.com/essure-removal-information , If Essure is correctly positioned; the coils span the utero tubal junction, and about 3-8 turns of the outer coil trail into the uterus. The devices need to be removed intact, no cutting, or pulling, or stretching. This means that in most situations, the uterus and tubes need to be removed intact to get the devices out complete. There are specialists, who are skilled at removing the devices without breaking them, and leaving your uterus and or tubes, if you desire. But you MUST go to a specialist for this. Leaving fragments of Essure behind is NOT desirable! “Teasing” the coils out of the uterus, in most cases, will leave you with fragments or (Polyethylene terephthalate) PET fibers. Vaginal hysterectomy makes it very difficult to reach the entire tubes, most often part of the tube and coil is left behind. So do not opt for vaginal hysterectomy. So PLEASE, read as MUCH as you can on proper removal. You only get one chance at getting Essure out correctly the first time. Going back for a second or third or fourth surgery to retrieve fragments, or adhesions, is not fun! So a teen walks into a hospital, the device in inserted and at 21 has a full hysterectomy. So much for a non surgical procedure that is rated as reversible. Sad.

EssureWhy are women crying for removal of essure, from their bodies and from the market? Recently Senator David Fitzpatrick -US- took a motion to parliament to have essure banned from the American market. This was brought about by an outcry of over 24000 women who have had the essure device and has made their lives a living hell on earth. The side effects of the device are so many, as listed in the essure problems website and as follows: –

  1. Gynecological: – Cramping, Sharp/Stabbing Pelvic Pain, Abnormal menses, Period stops, Ovarian cysts, Uterine cysts, Fallopian tube cysts, Pregnancy (yes, I have seen several E babies, in their website, testimonies of many women), Bacterial vaginosis, Constant spotting, Discharge (Odor/No Odor), Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Miscarriage, Hot flashes, Cervical Cancer/ Dysplasia, Hydrosalpinx (Fluid in the Fallopian Tubes), Fallopian Tube Fibroids, PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), Cysts at the Vaginal Opening (Bartholin’s Cyst), PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), Uterine Fibroids, Uterine Inflammation, Uterine Infection, Excessive Bleeding During Period (Menorrhagia), Painful Ovulation (Mittelschmerz), Night Sweats, Loss of Libido, Hot Flashes, Bleeding/Spotting After Sex, Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea), Painful Intercourse (Dyspareunia), Bleeding Between Periods (Metrorrhagia), Early Menopause, Incontinence, Long Menstrual Cycles (Polymenorrhea), Sexual Dysfunction (Unable to Orgasm or Feel Pleasure), Lack of Menstrual Cycle (Amenorrhea), Yeast Infections (Candida), Bacterial Vaginosis, Urgent/Frequent Urination, UTI (urinary tract infection), bladder infection, Cervicitis/Vaginitis (Swelling, Inflamation, Infection of  the Cervix or Vagina), Itching, Burning, Stinging, Stabbing of Vaginal Entrance, (Vulvodynia), Breast Pain/Tenderness, Abdominal Spasms/ Twitching/ Fluttering, Pain, Back, joint, chest, leg, breast, neck, spine, hip, Chronic Pelvic Pain, Face pain (Trigrinal Neuralgia)…
  2. Gastrointestinal:- Nausea, vomiting, gas, constipation, diarrhea, Severe bloating, Metallic taste in mouth, Heartburn, Bowel issues…
  3. Neurological:- Mental Health, Headaches or migraines, Dizziness, Tingling sensations, Numbness, Brain shocks, Nerve pain, Brain fog – cloudiness, forgetfulness, Anxiety/Panic Attacks, Mood swings, Seizures Stroke Symptoms, Depression (Sadness/Suicidal Thoughts), Ringing In Ears (Pulsatile Tinnitus), Black Out Spells/ Fainting, Diminished brain function (brain fog, confusion, cloudiness, forgetfulness, short term memory loss), Mood Disorders, PTSD (Post Tramatic Stress Disorder), Numbness in Thigh (Meralgia Parethetica), Numbness/Tingling in Extremeties (Hands/Feet), Sensation of Burning, Stinging, Tickling or Prickling of Skin (Paresthesia), Nerve Pain, Tremors/Shakiness, Dizziness…
  4. Blood Issues:- Anemia/ Iron Deficiency/Low Ferritin, Blood Clots, High Blood Pressure, Vitamin D Deficiency, Unexplained/Easily Bruising, Vitamin B-12 Deficiency, Elevated Blood Counts, Inability to Maintain Blood Sugars (Hypoglycemia), Pulmonary embolism, Autoimmune Disorders like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Myasthenia Gravis…
  5. Allergies/Sensitivities:- Chemical and food sensitivities, Metal Allergies (Nickel), Heightened Allergies/ Allergic Reactions, Food Allergies, Gluten Sensitivity, Allergic reactions, Hives, rashes, Cysts, boils, acne, Skin Irritation/Itching,
  6. Heart Issues:- First Degree Heart Block (Maybe due to the blood clots), Heart palpitations,
  7. Coils/Device Issues:- Perforation of the tubes by the coils, Coil migrations, Coils becoming embedded in other tissues/organs,  Broken and/or missing Coils…
  8. Others:- Swelling of legs or feet, Hair loss or changes, Hair growth in new places, Organs fusing to other organs, Dental issues, Insomnia, Thyroid Disease (Hypothyroid/Hyperthyroid), Degenerative Bone Disease, ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura), Seroma, Gallbladder issues (Gallstones/Removal), Liver Problems, Weight Issues (Loss/ Gain),Adrenal Problems, Sleep Apnea, Adhesions (Scar Tissue in Abdomen), Swollen Glands, Swelling/Numbness in Jaws/Lips, Unexplained Fevers, Swelling of Legs/Feet, Muscle Spasms, Vision Problems (Floaters, Blurred Vision, Decreased Vision), Excessive Sweating, Dry Skin/Hair/Eyes, Severe Bloating, Blood in Urine…
  9. Did I mention that women get pregnant with the device anyway, in spite of it being named as a permanent method of birth control?
  10. And finally, the testimonies of many families breaking due to the pressure imposed on them by the side effects are many. I read daily from the Essure problems face book page. Many will debate this, that family problems have many underlying issues, yes. But maybe, just maybe, the essure is the spark that lights up this fire to the point of no extinguishing the flames…

This many side effects have caused questioning of the clinical trials listed on the website. Further to that the doctors doing the procedures coerce women to have it, and then they denounce the side effects when their patients come to them (marketing aspect).

Why am I writing this? I am not an American and Essure is not yet in Africa. Or is it not? I have never seen anything with so many side effects. I also know that Bayer, the company attributed to manufacture and distribution of Essure has had its activities in Kenya, most recently promoting birth control in universities. I also know that most items banned abroad, usually find a place in our Kenyan markets, for example Depo-Provera, it is only a matter of time before essure lands in Africa with a bang.

Like anything marketed, no one tells you the negative side. Now, we know; do we want to make the same mistakes? I cry for the women who have a part of their body system removed. It is easu to declare that you are E-Free, because the E device has taken you to E-hell and back. I don’t even know how it would make me feel if I had my uterus removed, especially if it is as a result of side effects of some insert. I weep for the children who are diagnosed with cervical cancer at a tender age and have to have their wombs removed to forestall or stop the spread of cancer. I weep for the women who have to have their wombs removed because of essure. I weep because the device is attributed to causing some cancers.  Many tears…

On the other hand, you can have the whole reproductive system, and still be a woman of dreams, be open to life, and postpone pregnancies whenever wherever. Is this treatment to our Reproductive System, subjected to us every day justified? Can we just work with it as opposed to working against it? Life is a choice, and as my father always says, you only have one chance to become whatever you are. You have one chance of being a girl, one chance of being a woman, one chance of being whatever God blesses you to be. Choose to live a happy life, whatever your definition of happiness is.

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Article 39:- Hormonal Contraceptive-The Viable Alternatives…

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In my previous article, Hormonal Contraceptives-The female poison, I have highlighted the various side effects of the hormonal contraceptives. It is evident that its harm outweighs its value. So what next for women of child bearing age – Married women?

The contemporary world has reduced the term family planning to mean the spacing of births. It has also convinced most if not all of us that the only way to space births is to objectify oneself by using the several modes of contraceptives namely, the barrier methods, Intra-uterine devices and hormonal pills. However, there are scientifically proven methods that respect the dignity of the human person, are free of charge and have no side effects. For the purpose of this article we shall call it Natural Methods of spacing or achieving births or Natural Family Planning (NFP).

Disclaimer:-

  • NFP is not counting your menstrual calendar days;
  • NFP is not withdrawal before ejaculation during the conjugal act;
  • NFP is not the use of barrier methods during fertile days of a woman’s fertility cycle.

So what is NFP?

According to usccb.org, Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) natures of the conjugal act in marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife. This aspect of NFP also then supports God’s design for married love.

NFP is based on scientific facts about fertility. The methods are developed from research about women’s menstrual cycles and the signs of female fertility. Over a century ago, scientists discovered cyclic changes in cervical mucus and their relation to ovulation. In the 1920s, scientists identified the temperature rise that signals ovulation. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that scientists developed programs to teach others how to observe and interpret these fertility signs. Today, ongoing research continues to refine the methods of NFP. Any married couple can use NFP.  A woman need not have “regular” cycles. NFP education helps couples to fully understand and interpret their combined fertility, so that they can discern when to postpone or try to attempt pregnancy. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. The key to the successful use of NFP is cooperation and communication between husband and wife, a shared commitment. It is unique among methods of family planning because it enables its users to work with the body rather than against it. Fertility is viewed as a gift and a reality to live, not a problem to be solved.

Fertility cycle NFP practice is pegged on four facts about the fertility of man and woman:

  • A woman ovulates at only one time during her cycle, and an ovum can survive for only 12–24 hours;
  • Spermatozoa live only one to three days in the presence of fertile mucus, with survival up to five days being rare;
  • Cervical mucus enabling healthy sperm cells to navigate the genital tract is necessary for fertility (fertile Mucus);
  • A man is fertile from puberty till his death;
  • Fertility cycle is a function of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

What are the methods of NFP?

A woman’s fertility cycle (not menstrual) has four phases; Menstruation phase; First phase of infertility(Basic Infertile Pttern-BIP); fertile phase; and the second phase of infertility. While in her fertile years, a woman’s body provides several basic ways to identify the fertile and infertile times of her menstrual cycle. The rise and fall of reproductive hormones is responsible for these signs. Recognizing the pattern of those physical signs forms the basis for all methods of NFP. Each NFP method is focused on one or more signs of female fertility. They can be grouped into three categories;

  1. Billings Ovulation Method (BOM):-

BOM was developed by Drs John (1918–2007) and Evelyn Billings, validated by eminent international scientists and successfully tried by the World Health Organization. It uses cervical mucus/vaginal discharge consistency in identifying the fertile and infertile phases of the fertility cycle already highlighted above. Mucus CharacteristicsThis method can be used to achieve or postpone pregnancy during regular or irregular cycles throughout all stages of reproductive life, including breastfeeding, and peri-menopause.

What to obseveThe cervical mucus changes in viscosity and consistency with each phase of the fertility cycle. These changes are consistent with the phases of fertility. In NFP education, a woman learns how to identify the normal, healthy, cervical mucus which indicates the days that sexual intercourse is most likely to result in pregnancy (the fertile phase).  Keen observation of the cervical mucus can tell when a woman is ovulating. Once the couple can identify when the woman is very fertile, they can choose to abstain from sexual intercourse and genital contact if they are postponing pregnancy or engage in the conjugal act when they want to achieve a pregnancy.

More sophisticated trainers teach on how to observe the character of the cervix. It is based on the fact that the cervix opens only three times in a woman’s life; during menstruation; during ovulation; and at childbirth.

                     2. Basal Body Temperature Method (BBTM)

Basal Body Temparature chartBasal body temperature is the lowest body temperature attained during rest (usually during sleep). It is generally measured immediately after awakening and before any physical activity has been undertaken.  Ovulation causes an increase of one-half to one degree Fahrenheit (one-quarter to one-half degree Celsius) in basal body temperature. The tendency of a woman to have lower temperatures before ovulation, and higher temperatures afterwards, is known as a biphasic pattern. This method is used to pinpoint the ovulation time thus enabling a couple identify when to avoid or engage in the conjugal act depending on whether they are postponing or achieving a pregnancy. Its only weakness is that it identifies post ovulation infertility phase.

 3. Symptom-Thermal Methods (STM)

STM typically combines charting of the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) and (Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) of cervical mucus observation with other optional indicators, such as changes in the cervix and secondary fertility signs to identify when a woman is fertile. With this method, a couple can chart the pre ovulation infertility phase and the post ovulation fertility phase, and of course ovulation.

With the development of ovulation prediction kits (or OPKs), the rise of certain reproductive hormones such as estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) can be observed. Other optional signs, such as breast tenderness or minor abdominal pain at the time of ovulation, can also be observed by the woman.

How it Differs from contraception

There is an inherent inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of the conjugal act. The connection between the two aspects of the conjugal act is in fact such, that the destruction of its procreative reference necessarily destroys it’s unitive and personal significance. Why? Because the conjugal act has a significance that goes beyond the expression of affection and pleasure it offers. The conjugal act does not in any way lose its full meaning and value if one knows that a conception is out of the question, as when age, an inevitable operation for the sake of health, or pregnancy exclude it. The knowledge that a conception is not in question does not in any way taint the conjugal act with irreverence. This act in such a marriage, if it is the expression of a deep love anchored in Christ, will rank even higher in its quality and its purity than that in a marriage in which the love is less deep and not formed by Christ even though it leads to a conception. Yet even when, for good and valid reasons (such as the endangering of life or grave economic misery), conception should as far as possible be avoided, the marital act, whose meaning and value is the actualization of an ultimate union, in no way loses its raison d’etre. The intention to avoid conception does not imply irreverence as long as one does not actively interfere in order to frustrate the link existing between the conjugal act and a possible conception. Nor is the use of natural family planning in order to avoid conception in any way irreverent, because the very fact of the possibility of natural family planning, that is to say, the fact that conception is limited to a short period, includes also a God‐given institution. This also has a meaning, and it is definitely reverent to accept the opportunity which God offers to those spouses for whom the avoidance of conception is imperative! That conception is restricted to a short time also implies a word of God. It not only confirms that the bodily union of the spouses has a meaning and value in itself apart from procreation but it also leaves open the possibility of avoiding conception if this is imperative for serious reasons. To make use of natural family planning is not to imply the slightest irreverence or rebellion against God’s institution and the wonderful link between the love union and procreation; it is in no way a subterfuge, as some people tend to believe. On the contrary, it is a grateful acceptance of the possibility granted by God to avoid conception, if this is imperative, without frustrating the expression and fulfilment of spousal love in the bodily union. As soon as we see the abyss which separates the use of natural family planning from artificial contraception, we have answered the rhetorical question: “Why should artificial contraception be a sin if the use of natural family planning is allowed?” And as soon as we see clearly the sinfulness of artificial contraception, we can and must clearly repudiate the suggestion that this is the proper means to avert the threat of overpopulation. No evil in the world, great as it may be, entitles us to use a means for avoiding it which is sinful. To commit a sin in order to avoid an evil would involve adhering to the ignominious principle, “the end justifies the means” (Dr. Vincent Njuguna- St. Matia Mulumba Mission Hospital)

NFP represents a unique approach to responsible parenthood because it  calls for shared responsibility by husband and wife; is based on scientific research about the signs of fertility; treats each menstrual cycle as unique (from experience, it is unique); teaches husband and wife to daily observe the signs of fertility; has no harmful side effects; maximizes the possibility of achieving pregnancy when intercourse takes place during the fertile phase of the wife’s menstrual cycle; is effective for postponing pregnancy when intercourse takes place during the infertile phase of the wife’s menstrual cycle and; respects the unitive and procreative nature of conjugal love. In NFP both husband and wife are taught to understand and live God’s design for married love—this will give them countless blessings.

The various benefits of NFP cannot be exhausted but some include that NFP methods promote a holistic approach to family planning which both respects procreation and has the potential to deepen the intimacy of husband and wife in that it is open to the life giving nature of the marriage act; NFP methods support reproductive health. They are good for the body. The natural methods have none of the harmful side effects caused by contraception, especially chemical contraceptives (e.g., pill, injection, etc.). For the woman, NFP charting can even assist in the diagnosis of underlying medical problems. And, if a couple find they are having trouble conceiving, NFP information can help them pinpoint the most fertile time of the wife’s cycle. NFP methods can be marriage strengthening. NFP relies on couple communication and behaviour change. NFP methods require husband and wife to cooperate with each other in the most intimate area of their lives. During times of periodic sexual abstinence, husband and wife live a renewed courtship as they discover non-sexual ways to express their love for each other. On a practical level, husbands are encouraged to “tune into” their wives’ cycles, and both spouses are encouraged to speak openly and frankly about their sexual desires, hopes for number of children, and prayerful discernment of God’s will for their marriage. When living the NFP lifestyle, husband and wife learn that they have a shared responsibility for safeguarding God’s gifts of human sexuality, marriage and family. They also grow in their understanding of God’s will for their family size. NFP has the potential to make good marriages great. NFP is also free. In Kenya, training of couples is free, and exercising it accrues no costs whatsoever.

A number of NFP providers teach a variety of approaches to NFP. In Kenya, in addition to the Catholic Church, we have Human Life International Kenya among other organizations. It is endowed with doctors-physicians and gynecologists- and volunteer couples who are users of the methods. On-line courses are offered by Couple to Couple League, WOOMB International and most catholic dioceses all over the world.

The big question that comes when this is raised is, does it even work? What are the success rates? Well, from a users point of view, (we-my spouse and I- are users of the BOM) it depends on what you are trying to do. Are you trying to achieve pregnancy? Then yes it is successful, but remember, children come from God and are blessed unto us when God sees it fit to bless us with children. It is always for his glory. Are you trying to postpone pregnancy? Then yes it is. Currently rated at 99%. You just have to remember the fact that sex during fertile days can result to a pregnancy.

What makes it not work? Most of us have grown up in a world that glorifies sex and believes that sex is any time anywhere as long as there is a woman and man. Premarital sex is celebrated and those who choose to abstain till marriage as viewed as abnormal. Transfer the same attitude to a marriage situation and parties in a couple, believe that since they are married they are free to engage in the conjugal act any time but are not willing to embrace the fact that sex is both unitive and procreative, functions that are not mutually exclusive. Couples thus will seek to frustrate/treat the procreative aspect of the woman by letting her be responsible for her fertility and willingly frustrate it by taking the hormonal pills, implants and having intra-uterine devices inserted in her womb. The other major reason is fertility is viewed as a woman problem and should be fixed. Most men, not all, tend to abstain from responsibility of the procreative aspect of sex. Sex thus attains a selfish end as opposed to the unitive end that it was ordained to have. NFP introduces to the couples the value of joint responsibility in this key part of their married life; their sexual life; where each party appreciates and accepts the whole person and does not try whether medically or otherwise try to suppress any body functioning.

The biggest challenge I find is the attitude. How are we going to change this attitude that NFP does not work, bearing in mind even the medical practitioners who interact with families daily do not even want to think of this as an option because it is a concept out of this world. How do we even try to change a concept that is far-fetched because the other options are a multi-billion business enterprises that any other information that contradicts that which they advocate for will kill their business? Are we going to be brave enough to go against the norm? Or will we be complacent and keep failing to teach what is the best option? Are we going to watch as the cases of cervical and breast cancers rise and cower because we are too afraid to face this multi billionaires? Well the choice is mine, especially as a woman to abstain from the chemicals or to keep the poison in our systems. Either way, someday we shall all live the consequences of our decisions. I have always said, sexual matters are very key to the woman, and whatever is contrary to that which we believe in can be avoided by ensuring that the people we choose respect us and value that which we value.

Can we please stand up!

Acknowledgement:-

I acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Vincent Njuguna of St Matia Mulumba Mission Hospital and Augustine Richard Kakeeto, Lecturer at Catholic University of Eastern Africa- Kenya. 

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