Ann (not her real name) was 36 years old and mother of two when the mesh was implanted. “I was having a little incontinence after my kids were born,” says Ann. “And I am asthmatic -- every time I coughed, which was frequently, I had a some leakage so it was really embarrassing.
"I had the surgery and my husband and I were told to refrain from intercourse for at least 6-8 weeks. We tried after a few months. He could feel the mesh but I couldn’t feel anything. Of course this has really affected our relationship.”
Ann discussed the mesh problems with her urologist but she said it would simply take time to heal. But two years is a long time to wait. Since that time Ann and her family moved and she talked to other doctors. Her next step is to see a gynecologist but she is currently on state health insurance and doesn’t know if that will be covered. As well, Ann works 40 hours a week, along with looking after her kids.
“I’ve also had a lot of bladder infections since getting the transvaginal mesh,” Ann adds. “I have had four infections in the past year and I feel like I cannot empty my bladder--I have to sit forward and backward, up and down, stand and sit again while I am on the toilet. It is really frustrating--it usually takes about five minutes to urinate. Especially in the morning, I will have to pee about three or four times during the first hour after waking up. The TVT sling cleared up my incontinence problem but this is much worse--I would have rather dealt with incontinence than this."
Ann’s friend is considering getting transvaginal mesh and Ann warned her against it. “She is now going to find an alternative solution -- unlike me. I was told that I had no other choice. I trusted my doctor, especially advice coming from a specialist.
"And then I saw an ad on TV a few months ago about transvaginal mesh problems and I went online -- I just cried. I’m mad and upset and mostly depressed. I made the worst decision of my life. I just count my blessings that I have kids because my urologist told me that I couldn’t have kids once the mesh was implanted. So I had my tubes tied.
"My partner and I are OK in our relationship but we haven’t had intercourse for at least three months. We’ve tried gels and stimulants, anything to help but nothing seems to be working. And we can’t afford a sex therapist. My husband wants me to go back to the doctor and possibly have the mesh removed but we are also worried about the side effects of another surgery.
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"I have to call my insurance company and see if I am covered. If not I have to start saving. I will never go back to the urologist--why did she say it was fine? I didn’t know any side effects until after the fact. I’m scared of being told that they won’t cover it. And I am scared about trying to get it taken out. I am afraid that part of my body has grown around it and it can’t be removed.
"Our relationship isn’t just based on sex so I believe he will stand by me through this--a true test of love.
My advice to women suffering from incontinence: find some other way, there has to be an alternative than TVM."