Severe Side Effects of Pelvic Organ Prolapse Treatment
While Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is not necessarily detrimental to a woman's health, there are severe side effects to one of the most popular measures used to correct POP: the use of transvaginal mesh. More than 10 percent of women who have had corrective surgery to treat POP using transvaginal mesh have experienced complications. These complications can be mild or permanently damaging. It is important that women understand the health risks related to vaginal mesh products and be aware of safer alternatives to treat POP if it is determined that treatment is necessary.
What is Transvaginal Mesh?
Transvaginal mesh entered the market to treat POP in 2002. It was approved under the Food and Drug Administration's 510(k) "fast-track" clearance system. The clearance was given due to the mesh's supposed similarity to mesh products used to repair hernias.
Vaginal mesh is used like a hammock to support pelvic organs that have dropped into a woman's vaginal canal and/or rectum. It is also used in the form of a bladder sling, to correct Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). Unfortunately, transvaginal mesh has the tendency to erode, and protrude into vaginal tissues and other organs. This can cause mild discomfort at best, and severe pain and organ damage at its worst.
POP can be corrected without the use of transvaginal mesh. There are multiple non-invasive alternatives that have widespread success in treating, and reversing, the symptoms of POP. In the more rare cases where surgery is necessary, there are alternatives to the use of transvaginal mesh. Prior to the popularity of vaginal mesh products, doctors a woman's own tissues to repair and support connective tissues. These tissues can have equal success in treating POP, with far fewer complications.
What Should a Woman Do if She Has Undergone Surgery Using Transvaginal Mesh?
Women who have already experienced a corrective surgery using a vaginal mesh product should become familiar with the signs of complications associated with the device. A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should contact her health care professional immediately. It is also imperative that she have regular exams and let medical professionals know she has had transvaginal mesh inserted to correct POP or incontinence.
Symptoms of vaginal mesh complications can include:
- Pain in the vaginal canal or pelvic area
- Unusual bleeding and/or discharge
- Repeat infections
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Sexual partners may feel the eroded mesh material inside the vagina
- Incontinence outside the norm
- Constipation or new complications with bowel movements
Women who have experienced complications related to transvaginal mesh should report the problem to the FDA using the MedWatch Report Form. Women who have suffered severe physical and emotional trauma as a result of vaginal mesh products may be eligible for compensation. Many women have already sought to file a transvaginal mesh lawsuit. Other affected women may want to receive legal counseling to determine how they should proceed in filing a legal complaint.