The weakening of pelvic floor muscles is a problem affecting millions of women across the United States. This is caused by several conditions, foremost of which are childbirth and aging. As a result of this weakening, organs such as the bladder and uterus do not receive proper support within the body, and begin to press against the vagina. In addition to severe pain and discomfort, affected women become prone to medical complications such as Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) or Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI).
A transvaginal mesh is a sling-shaped piece of synthetic mesh which is used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. It was developed in the 90’s and found to be a highly effective, but new research has surfaced which is indicating that the mesh can cause further health complications. One of the reasons for the initial surge in popularity was that this mesh could be inserted non-surgically into the body. Transvaginal in literal terms means ‘through the vagina’
What health conditions is such a mesh prescribed for?
Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition where the pelvic floor muscles are weakened and fail to provide necessary support to the bladder and uterus. Resultantly, these organs bulge and descend through the vaginal wall, which results in significant pain and a variety of other symptoms.
Stress urinary incontinence can occur with or without pelvic organ prolapse. Without pelvic muscle support, the bladder sags and presses against other organs. This leads to urinary incontinence which can be triggered by the simplest of physical actions like coughing or sneezing. In some women, it may take heavier exercise like sports to cause the condition.
Through a procedure known as transvaginal mesh revision surgery these two conditions can be significantly improved. Because of their initial promise, thousands of women subscribed to the procedure – in 2010, 300,000 women underwent this surgery.
Transvaginal mesh complications and legal action
Though the procedure has been used for over two decades, the FDA has recently issued warnings about a number of complications caused by the surgical implants. These have been issued in response to increasing complaints from women which were filed with the FDA. Though an effective treatment, the vaginal mesh contributed to multiple problems with the health of the women. Some of these are:
- erosion of the mesh into the bowel, bladder or vagina
- perforation of the bladder or uterus
- recurrence of stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse
- pain during intercourse
- excessive, continuing vaginal discharge and drainage
- skin breakage
- scarring and shortening of the vagina
While the FDA investigates the frequency with which these complications occur, many of these mesh manufacturers have come under attack for failing to evaluate their product completely. Women across the United States who have undergone the procedure are filing lawsuits claiming compensation for the physical and emotional stress they have experienced due to this product. In light of these events, a number of alternative remedies are also being explored for their efficacy.
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