A mum-of-three spent ten days in a psychiatric unit after being struck down by a number of physical and mental health problems, that she’s blamed on a contraceptive implant.
Charlene Baldwin says her life was ruined after undergoing a ten-minute procedure to insert the Essure implant, which is now banned.
The 38-year-old said she felt ‘destroyed’ by the implant and can now only walk with crutches.
Charlene can no longer work and has to allow her nine-year-old daughter to help her get dressed after her health deteriorated following the non-surgical insertion.
The Essure implant, which was banned across Europe last year, is a flexible coil is inserted into the fallopian tubes via the vagina and cervix.
Charlene, from Rochester in Kent, said: “I started losing weight and bleeding heavily, I was in agony.
“I would be crying one minute, angry the next and just didn’t know what to do with myself.
“Essure has destroyed me – I need crutches to walk and I can no longer work.
“My nine-year-old has to help get me dressed – no child should have to do that
“She has never known me to be well because she was only ten months old when I had it done.”
The mum is one of thousands of women calling for the manufacturer Bayer to be held accountable for her ‘years of suffering’ and is seeking legal advice.
But she said she has been ‘fobbed off’ during repeat trips to doctors and just given other contraception.
The former volunteer was quick to sign up to the procedure after her gynaecologist told her about the ‘fantastic new product.’
She had the implant inserted eight years ago and spoke publicly about how it was so easy she was told to stop laughing half way through.
Then aged 30, Charlene did not even require anaesthetic and was able to go straight home from Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham and prepare dinner for her daughters.
The two tiny coils became surrounded by tissue barriers and her risk of an unplanned pregnancy were eliminated.
But less than a year later, Charlene’s nightmarish experience began when she started having hot flushes and thought she was going through the menopause.
She said: “I started to think the problems must be linked to the implant.
“Then about four years ago I found a forum for women in a similar position.
“Out of 80 or 90 known side effects I’ve experienced all but ten and the problems were getting worse.
“I went back to my gynaecologist and told him if he did not remove it I’d take it out with a pen knife – I was that desperate.”
Five years after her implant was inserted, Charlene underwent an emergency hysterectomy but her condition has not improved.
Of the one million women worldwide who have had the implant, thousands to have had it removed.
One gynaecologist who has removed 500 described it as becoming like a ‘calcified nail’ after a couple of years and can move around and risk piercing the Fallopian tubes.
Manufacturer Bayer has stopped selling the product in America, Europe and Australia – citing commercial reasons and negative publicity – but still denies there are any major problems with Essure.
Spokesman Hayley Wood said the company supports women and healthcare professionals who have ‘questions or concerns’ about the implant but urged women to first seek the advice of their doctor.
She said: “Bayer takes all reports of potential side effects very seriously and keeps the product information for all its products under constant review.”
But Charlene said she was never told what caused her health problems and that the medical report after her surgery was ‘vague.’
Medway Maritime Hospital said no formal complaints have been made from the 33 implants that have been carried out by the trust.
Gurjit Mahil, COO for planned care at Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I’m very sorry to hear about Ms Baldwin’s situation and I will ensure that her concerns are investigated if she would like us to do so.
“Every woman is entitled to safe and appropriate treatment.
“The Trust no longer offers the Essure implant to patients and has not undertaken any Essure implantation since the use of the device was suspended across Europe in 2017.
“A number of women in the UK and worldwide have experienced side-effects from the Essure implant in the years since it was approved for use, although it is important to note that many of these symptoms can also be due to unrelated gynaecological or wider health conditions.
“Although the Trust only implanted a small number of Essure devices before it was withdrawn from use, we are ready to support any women who are or suspect they may be experiencing side-effects from it.
“Please contact your GP in the first instance, and they will arrange an appointment with us if you need one.”