Pelvic Health Risks with Transvaginal Mesh (Drugwatch.com)
Pelvic Floor Disorders
Once the pelvic floor becomes weakened, women tend to develop stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Coughing, sneezing or laughing can trigger unintentional urine leakage. Many women accept this as a part of life, however with the proper therapy SUI can be reversed.
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor muscles are too weak to support the pelvic organs, allowing them to drop out of place. Some women do not need treatment, but for women experiencing symptoms like pelvic pressure, pain during sex or a bulge in the vagina, there are treatment options available.
More than half of women will suffer from a pelvic floor disorder at some point in life. Supporting the extra weight of the baby while pregnant, and straining the pelvic floor muscles during labor can stretch and weaken pelvic floor muscles. Smoking, high-impact activities, heavy lifting, obesity, chronic cough and constipation can also weaken the pelvic floor.
Risks with Transvaginal Mesh
Transvaginal mesh hit the market in the 1990s and is used in surgeries to repair pelvic floor disorders like pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). The synthetic device is implanted through the vagina to support the bladder and other pelvic organs.
In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety warning in response to increasing reports of serious meshcomplications. Three years later, the FDA issued a follow-up warning, stating that mesh complications are not rare.
Surgeries that do not use mesh can be equally effective in treating prolapse and incontinence, without the added risk, and should be discussed with a doctor. Treatments that do not involve surgery – including weight loss, Kegel exercises, pelvic physical therapy and pessaries -- should be considered longbefore surgery is scheduled.
After implantation, transvaginal mesh is known to shrink, which can cause shortening and tightening of the vagina and makesexual intercourse painful. Erosion is another serious risk of transvaginal mesh—sharp edges of the mesh can perforate nearby organs, which can make sex agonizing for women and painful for partners as well.
Women also report infections, unusual discharge, irregular bleeding and vaginal odors. Some women report that transvaginal mesh has left them with debilitating pain. They report being unable to work or participate in activities they once enjoyed. Some women are not even able to walk comfortably after mesh surgery.
Correcting these problems is not as easy as simply going back in and removing the mesh. Revision surgeries are often more complex, as the body’s tissues grow into the mesh, and aretherefore more dangerous than the original procedure. There is no guarantee that complications will be resolved with removal of the mesh, and there is no guarantee that all of the mesh can be removed.
After months or years of suffering, many women have brought lawsuits against the manufacturers of transvaginal mesh.
Linda Grayling is a writer for Drugwatch.com, a consumer advocacy website. She stays up to speed on the latest medical news, including recalls and clinical trials.