Change to vaginal mesh material ‘may cut problems’

A different surgical material to that normally used for vaginal mesh implants could mean fewer problems for patients.

Sky News has highlighted how thousands of women in the UK have been left with chronic pain after undergoing surgery for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

Now scientists from the University of Sheffield says switching from polypropylene to polyurethane may lad to less side affects.

Polyurethane, is softer and more elastic than polypropylene and is said to be closer to human tissue.

The vaginal mesh that was fitted to tens of thousands of women, leading some to suffer pain

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The research also has found that a female hormone can be added to the polyurethane which stimulates tissue growth and speeds up the healing process.

Professor Sheila MacNeil, of Sheffield University’s Materials Science and Engineering department, said: “For many years now, surgeons have been treating the problems of urinary stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse using the only synthetic material they had to hand – polypropylene.

“In certain procedures… it is beneficial to the patient and carries relatively little risk.

“However, when much bigger areas of the same material are inserted… the complication rate is frankly unacceptable.

The Sling the Mesh campaign group now has more than 3,000 members

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“We have focused our efforts on polyurethane (and) we have shown through our research that it does not provoke inflammation and retains its strength and elasticity.

“The addition of oestrogen is a major breakthrough as we have proved its beneficial effects in regenerating pelvic tissue.”

Pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence affects half of all postmenopausal women worldwide.

Pelvic organ prolapse affects a fifth of UK women but often only becomes apparent after a women who has had children goes through the menopause.

Julie Gilsennan says the vaginal mesh implant has left her in constant pain

Video: Mesh left me with no sex life and in pain

Last month, the Government announced it was launching a full retrospective audit of all women who have had the surgery since 2005 in order to find out the scale of the complications.

The official complication rate for vaginal mesh surgery is from 1-3% but recent studies have shown it to be anything between 10% and 15%.

But one mesh complications victim said she was deeply sceptical about the new product.

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Belinda Birkett, from Wilmslow, who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after she had a mesh implant, told Sky News: “It’s… outrageous. It’s made mostly from glue, nail varnish and also paint.

“It’s just another quick fix idea when plastics should never be put in a man or woman’s body ever.”