Your Sexual Health and Transvaginal Mesh
by Linda Grayling
When sexual dysfunction occurs, the problem can be mental or emotional—but sometimes, the problem is physical. Pelvic floor disorders such as stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse affect nearly half of all women and can interfere with normal sexual function.
Unfortunately, surgical treatment of these conditions has the potential to worsen these problems—sometimes making sex impossible.
What is Transvaginal Mesh?
The use of surgical mesh in hernia repairs demonstrated minimal risk of complications, so in 1996 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the use of mesh in urogynecologic surgeries, implanted through the vagina.
Transvaginal mesh can be implanted to support the bladder to improve continence, or implanted as a hammock-like support system for prolapsed pelvic organs. Starting with a FDA-issued Public Health Notification in 2008, the FDA recognized the serious complications associated with transvaginal mesh and has since determined that these complications are not rare.
Women considering surgery to correct pelvic floor disorders should exhaust alternative therapy options like physical therapy, diet and exercise. If surgery is needed, women should ask their doctor about surgical options that do not use transvaginal mesh.
The most common complication with transvaginal mesh is erosion into the vagina. Erosion can require multiple surgeries to repair, substantially decreasing quality of life. And because mesh grows into and around bodily tissues, it cannot always be removed.
The mesh also can perforate nearby organs, which is incredibly painful. When the vaginal wall is perforated, sex can be excruciating or impossible.
Mesh shrinkage is another common complication, which results in vaginal pain due to vaginal tightening and shortening. Both shrinkage and erosion are extremely painful conditions, and pelvic pain does not exactly encourage a healthy sexual appetite.
Other problems include frequent infections, which restricts sexual activities. Mesh can cause irregular bleeding, abnormal discharge and vaginal odors—all making women less likely to be interested in sex.
All of these physical complications can manifest in emotional distress, even depression. The loss of sexual desire, satisfaction or ability can be devastating for an individual and also instill the fear of losing—or actual loss of— a partner. Depression is known to reduce libido, and so the cycle of sexual dysfunction continues.
Linda Grayling writes for Drugwatch.com. Linda has a number of professional interests, including keeping up with the latest developments in the medical field.Join the Drugwatch community on our Drugwatch Radio page to find out more.