By Maya Palit
The manufacturers of not so recent invention might finally be confronted for screwing up several women’s lives. Over 800 women in the UK are suing the National Health Service because of their horrific experiences after getting vaginal mesh implant sugeries. The mesh (made from synthetic polypropylene, the material used to make plastic bottles) implant is meant to relieve patients suffering from incontinence following childbirth, or cases of pelvic organ prolapse, where the womb or the bladder tends to press against the vaginal walls.
But the operation has created serious problems for lots of women, with a large proportion claiming that they were in such severe pain that they were struggling to walk, have sex, and work. One person said she had contemplated suicide because the pain was so unbearable, and another said that the mesh had cut all the way through her vagina “like a cheese wire”. Others complained that they had tried to get it removed because of the pain but the mesh was too near a nerve to remove.
More than 92,000 women in the UK have had these implants between 2007 and 2015, but it turns out that one in 11 women experienced discomfort, pain, or severe consequences of some sort, and three years ago, the Scottish health secretary suggested suspending them. Women across the US had also sued manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson after having to deal with the debilitating pain caused by the meshes, and a US lawyer compared the mesh to other dangerous materials like asbestos.
The vaginal mesh implant has apparently been introduced in some clinics in India too, but information about its consequences is scarce, although research in the Indian Journal of Urology examined some of the complications caused by the mesh. But the UK’s medical regulator has stood its ground, declaring that the mesh is usually safe for women. It continues to be prescribed by the NHS, although a public health consultant in the NHS said that given the risk of developing complications, it shouldn’t be marketed as the primary remedy for patients with prolapse.