It isn’t easy to find a gynecologist or urologist to remove the mesh, particularly in Winnipeg. “I have met with several doctors over the years and they won’t even discuss it,” says Colleen. “They all tell me to go back to my gynecologist who implanted this mini arc but he retired. My GP said recently that ‘People in the Field’ are looking at a procedure to fix the problem.”
But who are these people, what field are they in, and where is the field? Perhaps Colleen’s doctor wants to give her some hope. While there are other types of mesh on the market that could replace the non-absorbable polyester or polypropylene type, which is most commonly used, removing the polyester mesh is a complex surgery and often requires multiple surgeries. A few specialists in the US have devoted their practice only to removing transvaginal mesh, and they have a long waiting list.
“I finally saw a urologist but all she was concerned about was my ‘over-active’ bladder and ordered a few tests,” adds Colleen, who had the TVT Sling implanted to correct pelvic organ prolapse. But the mesh made her bladder problems worsen.
“The transvaginal mesh seemed to work well for a few years but I got pain now and again where it was implanted and it hurt during sex, which put ‘a damper on things’, pun intended,” she says. “I started leaking even when my bladder was not full and during orgasm my bladder completely let go.” Around this time Colleen and her husband split up. He said to her, ‘Who would want to have sex with you doing that,’ (meaning her bladder leaking), and even though they got back together, Colleen admits their sex life hasn’t been great, but they are ‘dealing with these issues’.
Unfortunately the urologist Colleen saw doesn’t want to deal with the mesh issue. Colleen told her that the mesh had to come out but her urologist said it can’t be done and there would be too much damage to take it out. She too told Colleen ‘they’ are working on a ‘fix’ –somewhere in the field?
“Getting dressed for work in the morning and putting on my pants, I lift one leg into the pant leg and my bladder will let go without any warning,” Colleen adds. “So I have to wear a pad all the time. Even when my bladder isn’t full I have to go. And sometimes after a bowel movement it aches. Another thing my doctor won’t comment on is why I have so many bladder infections. When I finish the antibiotic treatment I am okay for a week and the infection comes back. So I’ve been on antibiotics for a year.”
Colleen has asked the urologist if the mesh could be causing the infection but she said it was something else, because the infection was showing up in her urine. Still…
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“I’m a psychologist so if someone tells me it’s all in my head, I reply, ‘I do think about it a lot but I feel about it down here’. Lots of people don’t want to deal with this transvaginal mesh issue,” says Colleen. “I can’t count the times I’ve had to rush home and change my clothes. I’m only 54 years old and I should enjoy many more years of a good sex life, but if this mesh doesn’t come out I may not want to have sex again.”