Posted: October 4, 2013

Vaginal mesh used to repair uterine prolapse, stress urinary incontinence (SUI), bladder prolapse, or pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can cause serious pelvic pain and problems.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse, or POP, or Stress Urinary Incontinence, SUI, can occur after a hysterectomy or when the pelvic or internal organ structures, such as the bladder, bowel, uterus or the muscles and ligaments supporting them, lose their tone or become weak due to stretching that occurs during pregnancy. After pregnancy, the bowel, bladder or uterus can drop or fall into or through the vagina. The displacement of the intestine, womb, uterus or bladder are not life-threatening, but they can cause abdominal pain, sexual dysfunction, urinary leakage, or constipation. Many women were told by their doctors that vaginal mesh surgery would be a simple solution to these problems.  Now, many of those women who underwent a vaginal mesh implant or sling repair are suffering with greater pelvic pain and discomfort because of subsequent contraction or erosion of the mesh device. The most frequently reported complications are: mesh protruding out of the vagina, vaginal infections, pain, burning sensation, bleeding, painful sex or sexual intercourse, scar tissue, nerve damage and urinary problems or urine leaking severe enough to require wearing adult diapers or pads.

In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Public Health Notification due to numerous reports of problems, or adverse events, after transvaginal mesh surgery for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. From just 2008 to 2010, the FDA received more than 2,800 reports of problems after transvaginal mesh surgeries. Those numbers do not take into consideration all the other women who did not report the complications after their mesh procedures.

 In July 2011, the FDA issued an updated safety communication warning doctors, nurses and other health care providers that complications related surgical mesh placed vaginally were not rare.  An FDA advisory panel in September, 2011 found that transvaginal mesh for POP repair posed certain risks which made its use questionable when compared to traditional surgical repair of POP.  Additional testing of those devices was recommended.