Urogynecological surgical mesh implants are one of the most frequently implemented treatment options for post-childbirth incontinence and womb prolapse. In the United Kingdom alone, 10,000 women undergo the procedure every year. A good number of them have had no issue with mesh procedures, while many others have been less fortunate.
Excruciating pain, repeated infections, and even increased resistance to antibiotics are just some of the problems that hundreds of women have to suffer through because of mesh.
Mesh and antibiotic resistance
Annette Power is one such woman. After having plastic mesh implanted to support her bladder, she’s had to take antibiotics with almost every meal for the past 16 years. Only recently was she told that she’d become resistant to nearly all types of oral antibiotics, save for one. If and when that stops working, she’ll have no choice but to have more powerful antibiotics intravenously delivered into her system.
“And when the intravenous ones stop working, I’ll be at risk of blood poisoning and that will just kill me off,” Power told the DailyMail.co.uk.
As for why she can’t just have the mesh taken out, Power explained that it’s no longer an option for her. “I want to have the mesh taken out but the disturbance of extracting it could set up a worse infection.”
While Power is close to becoming wholly antibiotic resistant, women like Chrissy Brajcic were already there. The mother of two was an outspoken vaginal mesh campaigner whose body had grown resistant to antibiotics. This happened after she was given mesh, a decision that also resulted in her receiving monthly treatments for urinary tract infections.
Brajcic had relentlessly crusaded against it until her death shortly before Christmas last year. According to the Independent.co.uk, the native of Canada was rushed to the hospital due to sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which the body’s response to infection damages tissues and organs. Brajcic’s family believes that the sepsis was caused by the mesh. (Related: Outbreak in Pakistan among 71 percent of newborn babies attributed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.)
It’s a conclusion shared by other people. Speaking of her passing, Sling the Mesh founder, Kath Sansom, remarked: “Her death has shocked and upset women around the world. She only had a mild stress incontinence problem from childbirth and physio probably could have fixed it. Now she has lost her life. This is wrong in every way. This is shocking.
“Many women in groups globally are close to being antibiotic-resistant – and then what? Benefits do not outweigh the risks of this operation. It’s time to say enough is enough.”
Sansom added that a survey of more than 500 members of her group has shown that about 10 percent of them had developed a resistance to five commonly used antibiotics. A similar trend was observed by London-based gynecologist, Suzy Elneil. A specialist in extricating disintegrated mesh, Elneil stated that as many as 15 percent of her patients have a form of antibiotic resistance.
Mesh and pain
Antibiotic resistance isn’t the only issue linked to mesh. With the assistance of the campaign group, Sling the Mesh, hundreds of women have come forward to speak about the side effects of the surgery. As per BelfastLive.co.uk, they’ve described having experienced:
- Bowel perforation
- Difficulty or the inability to urinate
- Loss of back and leg strength
- Loss of sex life
- Mesh eroding into the bowel or bladder
- Mesh protruding into the vaginal wall
- Pain during physical activity
- Pain the back, buttocks, legs, and groin
- Pelvic or vascular injury
- Recurring prolapse
- Skin rashes
“This stuff shrinks and moves inside the body, taking tissue with it, cutting through and inserting itself into tissue and organs,” said Jackie Harvey, a Northern Ireland campaigner. “I believe this is a ticking time bomb and we will see so much more carnage in years to come.”
Because of this, Australia has restricted the use of mesh while New Zealand has banned it altogether. Protesters affiliated with Sling the Mesh are hoping to achieve the latter in the United Kingdom. Following pressure from the group and from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Surgical Mesh Implants, the Department of Health and Social Care has agreed to conduct a nationwide audit of patients who’ve had mesh implants.
Remain updated on the mesh situation by going to WomensHealth.news.
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February 23, 2018 at 12:09PM