Advanced medical solutions that benefit women’s reproductive health can backfire or lead to unwanted complications. Therefore, when the FDA deliberately banned sales of transvaginal mesh products from the market to treat POP (pelvic organ prolapse) back in April 2019, it led to ample misunderstandings.
POP occurs when the ligaments and muscles supporting the vagina weaken, thereby dropping the rectum, cervix, bladder, and uterus gradually. Almost one-third of women are affected by this condition after childbirth or as they age.
It’s tough to live with POP, as the experience can be embarrassing and isolating. A few of the symptoms include a bulge or pressure coming from the vagina or trouble with urinating. Women who have chosen transvaginal mesh surgery to solve this issue have faced multiple complications.
In 2019, an FDA ruling directed manufacturers to discontinue the sale of vaginal mesh. Also, in October 2022, after a 36-month post-market surveillance study, the agency concluded that vaginal mesh used to treat POP has more risks than benefits.
In this article, we will discuss these complications and safer and better alternatives that are available.
What Is a Surgical Mesh, and What Are Its Uses?
To explain in simple terms, the vaginal mesh is used for repairing SUI (stress urinary incontinence) and POP (pelvic organ prolapse). The surgical mesh can be implanted permanently, reinforcing the vaginal wall for POP repair and providing support to the bladder neck, or urethra, to repair SUI.
The principal surgical procedures that are performed using the vaginal mesh are:
- Transvaginal insertion of the mesh for treating POP
- Mesh sling for treating SUI
- Transabdominal insertion of the mesh for treating POP
However, in July 2023, The Journal reported that a group of women who witnessed fatal consequences with the vaginal mesh had requested that it be banned completely. They also urged for a total redress scheme for women who have witnessed loss of earnings, pain, and costly medical bills to correct their complications.
The news also talked about a group named Mesh Survivors Ireland, a team of over 600 women who had stood outside Dail for several hours to emphasize the need for redress and call for essential assistance for all survivors.
Vaginal Mesh Erosion and Other Complications
Mesh erosion from the vagina, often known as protrusion, extrusion, or exposure, is the most common complication reported by women who have opted for vaginal mesh. It takes place when the mesh gets eroded through the tissue and also becomes visible. That aside, mesh erosion can ache increasingly, and lead to painful sexual intercourse.
Additionally, it can affect other organs in a woman’s body. Urinary tract erosion can lead to pain and recurring infections. An erosion in the rectum or bladder can lead to abnormal pain and infections as well.
Another dangerous complication is multiple-organ perforation. Here, the mesh erodes through internal tissues, and it can perforate various organs. It generally occurs in the rectum, urethra, bowel, or bladder.
A few other complications comprise:
- Vaginal discharge
- Neuro-muscular issues
- Vaginal scarring
TruLaw states that if a woman has experienced any of these complications, they must get the required medical treatment so that the issue doesn’t get aggravated. Once that is done, she can seek monetary compensation by filing a lawsuit. For this, it’s best to get in touch with a lawyer who has expertise in this matter and can use every piece of evidence to build a solid case that will draw fair compensation to cover the damages and suffering they have endured.
Alternatives to Vaginal Mesh
Considering the magnitude of suffering and complications linked to this process, women today would want to know what can be used instead of mesh for prolapse so that its benefits outweigh the pain. Boston Scientific in June 2022 published the result of a study that established surgical mesh repair used for apical vaginal prolapse wasn’t superior to native tissue repair.
That means there are other ways to treat this condition that reduce pain and suffering. The alternatives are:
- Native tissue repair: Here, the body’s tissue gets used for repairing the weak vaginal wall.
- Vaginal Pessary: It is a device that gets inserted into the vagina to provide support to sagging pelvic organs. This process doesn’t require surgery, and the device can also be removed and cleaned regularly.
- Fascia Lata Graft: It is a process where the patient’s fascia lata tissue from her thigh gets grafted to manage POP.
Last but not least, there is a set of lifestyle changes that doctors suggest women implement in their lives to heal this condition. It includes averting heavy lifting, weight management, and daily performing Kegel’s exercises to support their pelvic floor muscles.
In conclusion, women must pay attention to their reproductive health and the medical solutions they opt for. Often, what appears to be the best solution might come with its own set of challenges, such as the vaginal mesh. Women who have faced the consequences mentioned above should seek both medical and legal assistance.