A woman may weaken or severely injures her vaginal tissue as a result of childbirth, multiple births, pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence, thus resulting in sometimes catastrophic consequences. Damage sustained from these events, among others, can be irritating and painful.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a condition that occurs when the muscles and ligaments that support the pelvic organs weaken. When the muscles lose their strength, the surrounding organs may slip out of place. Similarly, stress urinary incontinence is typically characterized by the inability or decreased ability of the muscles in the bladder to control the release of urine, particularly during physical activity such as exercise, sneezing, coughing or laughing. When muscles are not strong, any type of pressure can trigger urine release impulsively, resulting in discomfort and intense pain.
In these disorders, the weakened pelvic and vaginal muscles can cause symptoms that directly and severely interfere with the quality of life for many women. If a woman is diagnosed with any of these diseases, a doctor may surgically implant a mesh into the vagina, bladder, rectum, bowel or urethra, replacing the defective or damaged tissue in order to provide support for the urethra.
Complications from Transvaginal Mesh
However, some studies may suggest that women who undergo this procedure may increase their risk of suffering from complications. In many cases, the surgical mesh may erode into the bowel tissues, bladder or vaginal wall, causing serious side effects. Women who have received a transvaginal mesh may actually increase their risk of developing intense pain and suffering through urinary problems, infections or other post-surgical complications. In fact, when a transvaginal mesh erodes, it may cause even more severe pain for the woman, even though it was implanted in an attempt to improve her quality of life. Other complications include the formation of scar tissue or granulomas, fistulas, neuropathic pain, recurrence of prolapsed organs, development of urinary retention, urinary incontinence, and mesh exposure, migration or contraction.
Reports of Complications
In 2010 alone, physicians performed over 100,000 of these procedures. The Food and Drug Administration reports that in the past three years, they have received almost 3,000 cases in which a transvaginal mesh was surgically inserted to treat POP. On August 1, 2012, the FDA released a statement acknowledging that there is a high risk of serious complications associated with the use of transvaginal mesh, and doubted whether its use was more effective than other methods of repair. According to the FDA, the most frequent complications are urinary problems, pain, bleeding, infection, discomfort during intercourse, and mesh erosion.
As a result of complications arising from transvaginal mesh insertion, some women experience a loss in their quality of life, emotional distress, pain and discomfort, and spousal conflicts. Additionally, most women need to undergo additional surgeries and further corrections and revisions to ease the severity of the side effects. These procedures typically involve the removal of the transvaginal mesh and in some cases, more than one surgery is needed to completely rid the body of the mesh. In extremely unfortunate incidents, removal of the mesh may not reverse the complications and some women may even continue to suffer with vaginal discomfort long after the removal procedure.