Stress urinary incontinence is a common condition countless women encounter at some stage of their lives. The unintentional leakage of urine during coughing, sneezing, or exercising can hurt your confidence and self-esteem besides causing discomfort. Knowing that you are not alone is comforting. Statistics show that 78% of women have stress incontinence versus 51% with urge incontinence.
Fortunately, several treatment options are available for women struggling with bladder control. You can try Kegel exercises, medications, and lifestyle changes to deal with the condition. Surgical alternatives may seem a viable solution for those looking for long-term relief. With studies showing that women with stress urinary incontinence spend about $750 each year for routine care, a long-term option sounds feasible.
However, women considering transvaginal pelvic mesh for stress incontinence should think twice. It is a controversial choice due to potential risks and complications. In this article, we will explain why it might not be an ideal choice to manage stress incontinence.
Complications and Safety Concerns
Pelvic mesh has been linked with a range of health risks, complications, and safety concerns over the years. The procedure entails using a screen-like material to reinforce the pelvic tissue for better control over the bladder and urethra. Statistics show that the success rate of the procedure is around 84.15%. That means the surgery can go wrong for 16 out of every 100 women opting for the procedure.
Surgical mesh may erode through internal tissues and perforate other organs. Additionally, infection is a widely prevalent risk. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration stated that transvaginal pelvic organ prolapse POP repair was a high-risk device. Later in 2019, the FDA ordered manufacturers to stop selling the product due to concerns relating to its safety or effectiveness.
Long-term safety data relating to the procedure is not available. The bigger concern is that most complications may not manifest immediately after the initial translation. You may end up facing uncertainty and apprehension, even after bearing the pain and spending big on surgery.
High Revision Rates
While women with mesh-related complications may benefit from operative mesh resection, it spells additional pain and financial burden. The last thing you want to deal with is post-operative surgeries to manage the symptoms of the first surgery. You expect lasting relief and a long-term solution after the first procedure itself.
However, many women undergoing pelvic mesh implantation require revision surgeries. The worst part is that even mesh removal does not address the pain complication. Women should consider non-surgical treatment alternatives rather than spending time and money on pelvic mesh surgeries and repeat procedures.
Pelvic Mesh Lawsuits
Besides research and medical evidence underscoring the safety concerns relating to mesh surgeries, legal action by many women reinforces the risks. According to the latest transvaginal mesh lawsuit update, ObTape, a popular brand, is facing multidistrict litigation (MDL) for failing to warn patients against the potential complications of the product.
TruLaw notes that West Virginia has emerged as a significant player in the legal saga. The state has recently reached a settlement worth $3.9 million with Johnson & Johnson over the serious allegations of defective mesh products. Victims suffering complications should voice their stories and seek compensation from big brands because they deserve justice for their pain and suffering.
Moreover, women considering mesh surgeries should consider these lawsuits as eye-openers highlighting the risks involved. A risky surgery isn’t worth the pain and effort, even if it gives you a chance to control a leaky bladder.
Alternative Treatment Options
Another valid reason to skip pelvic mesh surgery for stress incontinence is the availability of non-surgical and less invasive alternatives. Studies establish the efficacy of pelvic floor muscle exercise (PFME) in improving pelvic floor muscle strength, endurance, power, and relaxation. The best thing about this therapy is that it offers natural and sustainable results without pain and a hefty cost.
According to WebMD, other effective and non-invasive alternatives for stress incontinence include:
- Electrical stimulation
- Behavioral intervention
- Lifestyle modifications
- Absorbent products and devices
- Peripheral tibial nerve stimulation
The safety concerns relating to these therapies are far fewer than surgical mesh implantation. They take a more natural and cost-effective approach to alleviate the symptoms of urinary incontinence.
The Bottom Line
The controversy and legal action against pelvic mesh have increased awareness and advocacy among patients and within the medical community. As a patient suffering from stress incontinence, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with your doctor before going ahead with it. Even better, you should stick with the more conventional and natural non-surgical options. With consistent effort and support, you can regain control and enjoy a better quality of life.