The controversial vaginal mesh operation should be banned from treating organ prolapse – so says the health watchdog NICE.
The organisation is advising the implants should only be used for research - and not routine operations.
It’s estimated that one in 11 women have problems with the mesh.
A campaign Sling The Mesh, led by journalist Kath Samson highlighted the problems experienced by women who have had the mesh operation. In many cases, the mesh came lose and cut into the vagina.
- Ongoing pain
- Inability to walk
- Pain during sex
In some cases, the symptoms have been so severe, women have been left unable to work.
Mesh causes excruciating pain
Kath Samson comments: “The pain in my legs and feet was so intense, along with burning pains in my vagina - like being cut with a cheese wire - that I knew something was terribly wrong.”
Samson had opted for the mesh after childbirth had left her with stress incontinence.
The plastic meshes fitted are made of a material called polypropylene. Polypropylene is used in the manufacture of plastic bottles.
What is surgical mesh used for?
Mesh is used in the vagina, uterus, bowel, bladder or urethra after prolapse.
The University of Oxford's Prof Carl Heneghan, has branded the use of mesh a "catastrophe".
The NICE documents research "randomised controlled trial data showed no added benefit of using mesh compared with native tissue repair".
NHS statistics show that in the last eight years, over 92,000 women had vaginal mesh implants in England.
What are the alternatives to the vaginal mesh operation?
Talk to your gynaecologist about the alternatives. Here are a selection of them.
Kegel exercising. Learning Kegel exercises can be very effective. Talk to your GP about the best kind for you, but most exercises involve pulling in your pelvic floor for three seconds and then relaxing. You should do at least 24 contractions a day for at least six weeks.
MonaLisa Touch Laser. This is a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, which applies laser energy to the vaginal walls. This stimulates the production of new collagen and rehydrates and tightens the vaginal wall. Research has shown improvements of 90% in vaginal laxity, and 72% in pain during sex, after 3 sessions of MonaLisa Touch®. It can improve incontinence in suitable patients by significantly improving tissue tone and elasticity in the walls of the vagina.
Oestrogen creams. There is evidence to suggest that topical oestrogen creams may improve continence in women. Oestrogen, in the form of a cream or insert can firm up vaginal walls.
Vaginal ring. A vaginal ring pessary that keeps the vaginal walls in place. Ring pessaries may be an option if a prolapse is more severe, but you would prefer not to have surgery. They will need to be replaced every four months.
Vaginal cone. Another medical device, constructed in a similar way to a tampon, with a string attached. This keeps the pelvic floor muscles engaged as the will keep the cone from falling out, thus strengthening the vaginal walls.
See a gynaecologist for problems with vaginal laxity
Finding a gynaecologist who has experience in dealing with menopausal problems should be a priority.
Urinary incontinence, along with vaginal dryness are often referred to by the umbrella term, Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM). This syndrome also includes lack of lubrication and discomfort during sex and frequent urinary infections
The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods ceaseFull medical glossary