Vaginal mesh implant surgery was available in Ireland until 2018. Most women who had the surgery had a good outcome. But others had complications.
Some complications are mild and can be managed. Others are serious and can severely affect your quality of life.
Complications can happen soon after your operation, often within 1 year. But they can also develop years later.
Types of complications after mesh surgery
There are different types of complications linked to mesh implants. Most of them are caused by erosion (wearing) of the mesh into pelvic tissues.
Symptoms of complications include:
- unusual bleeding or discharge
- blood in your urine
- pelvic or lower abdomen (tummy) pain or swelling
- repeated infections that take a long time to heal
- urinary tract infections (UTIs) that keep coming back
- mesh exposed in the vagina
- awareness of mesh during sex
- pain during sex
- new or worse bowel or bladder problem
- vaginal or groin pain
Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if
you had mesh surgery and you:
- have symptoms of complications
- are worried about complications - even if you do not have symptoms
- know something is not right but you are unsure of the problem
If you are not sure if your doctor used mesh in your surgery, you can:
- ask your GP if their records show the type of surgery you had
- request your records from the hospital where you had surgery
Medical assessment for complications
Your doctor or consultant will do a medical assessment. Tell them how symptoms affect your quality of life, mental health and relationships.
They may check your abdomen (tummy), pelvic area and vagina. They may do other tests to check for issues with the mesh. These may include an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Treatments for complications
Your doctor or consultant will talk to you about treatment. You will decide on a treatment or management plan together. You may need to try a few options.
If they cannot treat your complications, they may refer you to the Mesh Complication Services for specialist care.
Types of treatments
Sometimes you will need more than 1 type of treatment from different specialists.
Your treatment may include:
- bladder training
- expert physiotherapy
- pain management
- mental health support
You may decide not to have treatment right away. You can have treatment at another time if you wish.
Your team may consider surgery in some cases. This will depend on your symptoms and the risk of further complications.
Surgery may involve the:
- partial removal of mesh
- full removal of mesh
Partial removal of mesh
Your team may recommend you have part of the mesh removed. For example, if a small piece of mesh is exposed in the vagina. How much mesh is removed may depend on your symptoms.
Full removal of mesh
Surgery to remove vaginal mesh can be complicated and sometimes dangerous. Full removal is not usually recommended. There is also a risk that it could make your symptoms worse. Your urogynaecologist will only remove mesh in specific circumstances.
To remove mesh, they will assess:
- your complications, and how they are affecting you
- how removing mesh would help your complications
- your risk of getting more complications if the mesh stays
- your risk of getting more complications if the mesh is removed
- the possibility of complications remaining despite removing the mesh
You may need to have specialist treatment abroad that you cannot get here. This will depend on your complications and how they affect your general health and quality of life. You will need a referral for this treatment.
If you had mesh surgery but have no complications
Most women who had vaginal mesh implants do not have problems. But if you are worried about the surgery you had, talk to your GP or the consultant at the hospital where you had the surgery.
You can also contact your hospital group through an email set up for mesh queries and concerns.