Class Action Lawsuit reignites Conversation on Female Contraceptives
WORDS BY PULP MEDIA
Pharmaceutical giant BAYER are set to face a class action lawsuit from dozens of women off the back of their product Essure, reigniting the debate on the implications of hormonal contraceptives.
With reports of extreme abdominal and ovary pain, irregular menstrual bleeding and allergic reactions to the materials of the device, Essure is under fire for the severe physical repercussions patients have suffered since its release in 2002.
News of the class action lawsuit broke earlier MONDAY, with women seeking compensation for the product originally promoted as ‘safe and effective’.
Essure’s appeal as a contraceptive option roots in its ‘non-surgical’ procedure, whereby two metal coils are inserted directly into the tubes and block reproductive fluids from fermenting.
Horrific cases of surgeons pulling shards of the contraceptive and performing full hysterectomy’s (the complete removal of the uterus) have illustrated the severity of the products repercussions.
Extended periods of bleeding, extreme abdominal pains, aggressive mood swings and foreign-object induced body melt downs: sound familiar to anyone?
The class-action filed against BAYER for Essure is indicative of the complications a great majority of hormonal, non-permanent contraceptive users deal with daily, and express the necessity of expanding research into female contraceptives.
PULP contributors share their contraceptive experiences.
THE PILL: used by 44.5% of contraceptive users.
The pill is the most commonly used contraceptive amongst women. It has numerous versions and hormone levels, lasts 24 hours and costs $0-$50 a month.
"My first experience with the pill was it giving me my period for 30 days straight ,which then made me both anaemic and super grumpy." - Holly
“The physical effects of these pills was that instead of the promised regular cycle, I would bleed fortnightly. Week on, week off. Beyond feeling lethargic and uncomfortable, I was spending much more money on tampons and pads and more time washing sheets and underwear. It makes you question yourself. Am I actually upset or is it the hormones making me feel this way? It has taken five different kinds of hormonal pills for me to find one where I don’t feel forced to compromise/choose between my happiness and my health.” - Alana
“When I first asked my doctor for the pill there was not really any discussion about risks, side effects or anything. Sitting alone, googling the side effects of the pill after a week of taking it gave me the biggest walls-caving-in type panic attack of my life, and I basically spent the next week waiting for a blood clot to give me a heart attack. I’m back on it now because I want more secure contraception while in a relationship… and damn it sucked mentally going back – I still feel uncomfortable, queasy almost, talking about it. My boyfriend pays for my birth control now because being the one to take it damn sucks. Being given some $70 bill every packet on top of everything else is the worst” - Emma
A study conducted on the contraceptive pill using 100,000 women over a year saw that 33 will experience a lung clot, 19 a stroke and 7 a heart attack.
THE GLOVE: used by 34.4% of contraceptive users.
Everyone knows what this is – unless you missed the class where you get to put a condom over a banana. One time use only, cost $0.50 - $1 each.
“Massage oil once broke the condom I was using inside me. I was doing kegels constantly every day and finally a chunk of latex came out a week later. I wasn’t really worried about toxic shock, more angry I had to pay $30 for the morning after pill.” - Eliza
THE ROD: used by 9.5% of contraceptive users.
Otherwise known as the ‘Implanon’, this is inserted into the arm of the user, costs between $0 - $1300, and lasts for three years.
“The rod seemed to be a dream for the first few months. All went as my doctor and the pamphlet had predicted; random but painless, and usually very light periods that soon settled. My once crippling period pain had disappeared. Yet three months in, supposedly past the ‘settling’ time, my emotions became absolutely wild. It seemed like my cramps had been swapped with equally disabling depression episodes that made me effectively useless for hour long bursts only to be followed by snaps of absolute equally mad ecstasy. I found myself in tears, absolutely inconsolable whilst being totally conscious of how irrational I was being. My cramps were horrific but at least they didn’t mess with my head. There is definitely not enough warning/gravity given to the emotional side effects of contraceptives and how fundamentally they can interrupt your sense of self.” - Rebecca*
“I gained 15 kilos on the bar and I spotted/got my period the whole time I was on it from like October until July. I reckon I only had 25 days total without a period. So maybe like a month out of those 9 months… I had 8 months of a period.” - Katie*
MIRENA: used by 9.9% of contraceptive users.
Otherwise known as the ‘IUD’, this is inserted into the cervix, costs between $300 - $800, and lasts for five years.
“My mirena somehow was pushed too far up to be visible and got lost inside me. I went to the doctors and they had to get a dildo camera inserted to try and find it and fish it out.” -Jackie*
“My IUD hook moved and stabbed my boyfriend’s penis while we were having sex” - Akala
THE LOT & AU NATURALE
Every kind of contraceptive you learnt in health class and more.
“Contraceptive pills, rod, IUD, I've tried them all. Each as destructive to my mental and physical health as the last. The crescendo of bleeding for over three months straight and in excruciating pain, I had my IUD removed in France by a gynaecologist that told me I never should have had it implanted in the first place for my uterus size or age. I swore off hormonal contraceptives and have never looked back.” - Emily
At least 3,000 Australian women have been negatively affected by ‘Essure’, with between 3,000 and 5,000 women across the country using the permanent contraceptive device.
A Bayer spokeswoman said Essure was discontinued in Australia in 2017 due to a lack of popularity.
*Certain names have been changed for the sake of privacy.