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Transvaginal Mesh: Two Cautionary Tales

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Tampa, FLDiane and Paula have similar stories about transvaginal mesh: they both had TVM implanted for incontinence and they are still experiencing "issues." They aren't suffering the agony of eroded mesh like so many other women, but they believe it's just a matter of time. And both women want to warn others not to have incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse treated with a transvaginal mesh surgical procedure.

"I was having a lot of incontinence problems starting in my 30s," says Diane (not her real name). "When I exercised or coughed I would have a little leakage and it got to the point where I had to wear pads or even change my underwear. So on my gynecologist's advice, I had a transvaginal mesh implant when I was 56, two years ago."

Diane had the surgery at the University of Florida Medical Center, where they specialize in these issues. She was sent home that same day (surgery is on an outpatient basis) and immediately noticed some leakage around her catheter.

"As soon as the catheter came out I had the same incontinence problems so obviously the procedure was a failure," says Diane, "and there is still an issue when I sneeze, even after having another surgery last May, with a different kind of mesh."

But the issue of greater concern for Diane is whether or not the mesh will eventually erode. After reading online and watching on TV about so many women with horrific TVM experiences, it goes without saying that anyone with this mesh would be worried.

"Although I am concerned, there is nothing I can do about it," Diane says. "Besides, there are enough things in life to worry about, so if it becomes an issue then I will do something about it." However, she did file a complaint with an attorney for two reasons: she had to go through a second surgery, and she believes the TVM manufacturers should take responsibility.

"I am lucky that I am not having serious problems, but this mesh could still erode…"

Paula had a hysterectomy and soon afterward, she would have a "little leakage" every time she coughed or laughed. About five months ago her gynecologist of seven years asked Paula if she wanted her problem fixed. So she had the TVM implant at the outpatient clinic.

"Now my problem is worse," says Paula. "When I try to urinate, I push and it's like my bladder locks up. I have to completely relax and it takes so long; sometimes I have to get up and walk around, and sometimes I have to pee about 10 times."

Like Diane, Paula came home after surgery with a catheter and it was removed three weeks later. "What will happen when I am 60 or 70 and I can't go at all, will I have to wear a catheter permanently?" Just before having the surgery Paula heard about transvaginal mesh erosion horror stories, and she expressed concern to her gynecologist. "He said I didn't have to worry about it and to trust him because I was getting a newer model of mesh, the size of a band-aid.

"Now I can laugh and cough without worry; I'm not going to lie and say I have other problems going on, but this problem I have now is not natural and I don't know whether I should have this mesh removed. I do know that, given the information I have about transvaginal mesh since my surgery, I would never have had it in the first place."


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