Women’s bodies are strong and resilient. Pregnancy and postpartum demands challenge those limits, as women are expected to stay at work longer and go back to work after childbirth, sometimes within days of delivery. It’s no wonder many women feel they must fortify their body – but at what cost?
An aging champion fighter eventually requires medical care to maintain a healthy body.
Boston Scientific, Coloplast, and Johnson & Johnson offered women strips of plastic or pig or cow mesh for relief – but as described below, the potential side effects for so many were painful and life threatening.
About Transvaginal Mesh
Women turned to plastic or animal mesh to help reinforce weak vaginal walls and lift their uterus, bladder, rectum and other organs up and away from the vaginal canal to avoid painful, embarrassing, and potentially dangerous health conditions associated with pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
POP can cause women’s organs to fall down and sometimes out of their body simply from sitting or walking because the pelvic floor has been weakened by age or vaginally-delivered babies.
Stress Urinary Incontinence is another reason a woman might choose mesh surgery.
A woman can lose control of her bladder if she laughs, coughs, sneezes, walks, or accidentally steps hard off a curb or there’s a sudden movement.
Urine leakage is less severe in some women, more so in others, which leads them to undergo surgery to install mesh to lift the urethra or bladder for better muscle control.
Medical device distributors sold mesh provided by chemical and petroleum raw materials companies to physicians for permanent implantation inside more than 2 million American women.
How Does Surgical Mesh Cause These Problems?
In many cases, the mesh had shrunk after just a few years, embedded into scarred tissue, surrounded by red, tender, swollen tissue and organs. Strands of the mesh had come unwoven and were poking women’s insides, and their male sex partners.
Patients had been told the product would last a lifetime.
Reason for Transvaginal Mesh Recall
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall on April 16, 2019 commanded Boston Scientific and Coloplast to stop selling their surgical mesh products.
Johnson & Johnson was not specifically named in the recall perhaps because it previously had stopped selling some of its related products.
In 2004, Texas-based Chevron Phillips publicly warned that it was concerned about the permanent human implantation of “Marlex,” the polypropylene plastic used to make the surgical mesh. Women described to 60 Minutes reporter Scott Pelley that the failing product felt like a cheese grater or sandpaper inside them. Some couldn’t sense when they had to urinate.
Women shouldn’t have to have breakage, pain or complications. They can sometimes have surgery to remove the body-damaging mesh.
Women and their loved ones came forward to report bad and painful experiences, and the women began seeking legal help. More than 100,000 women decided to fight for the bodies that for so long had fought for them. They sued surgical mesh manufacturers.
In 2011 the F.D.A noticed and took action, issuing a safety concern and convening a physician gathering to discuss mesh risks and benefits. Some medical device providers chose to stop selling it, others did not.
In February 2019 the F.D.A. met again with an advisory committee to evaluate risk evidence, eventually leading to the April 2019 recall of surgical mesh products that have broken or caused pain or complications.