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‘This tiny piece of tape is ruining my life’: Women left in agony by vaginal mesh still struggling to get help


At 34 years old, Dawn Jaxson had two young daughters. Since going through childbirth she had been experiencing a prolapsed bladder and urinary incontinence. Her doctors recommended she have a vaginal mesh fitted to treat the problem, and she didn’t question their advice.

But more than 15 years later, she wishes she had. “As soon as I’d actually had it fitted, I felt discomfort,” says Jaxson, now 50. “Then the pain just didn’t go.” After years of almost constant pelvic pain and “countless” medical appointments, Jaxson says: “This little tiny piece of tape is still ruining my life.”

“I can literally be sat down and then out of nowhere, it will be like somebody is shoving a red-hot poker through my bladder,” she tells iNews. “Being intimate with somebody is just impossible. Sex is no joy. Imagine your worst period pain you could possibly have, and that’s what it’s like on a daily basis.”

NHS Digital records show that between April 2008 and March 2017, 100,516 patients had a tape insertion procedure for stress urinary incontinence. A further 27,016 patients had a mesh procedure for pelvic organ prolapse. But the surgery was suspended in Scotland in 2014 and across the rest of the UK by 2018 following complaints about complications – and a review ordered.

The review panel, overseen by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, spoke to more than 700 affected individuals and concluded that pelvic mesh procedures had caused “anguish, suffering, and many ruined lives”.

In 2020, the panel set out nine recommendations to help the thousands of women affected, including the creation of specialist centres, so patients could have their mesh removed or receive further treatment. But two years on from that landmark report, women say they are still suffering debilitating symptoms and struggling to access the help they so desperately need.

Kath Sansom, the founder of the campaigning group Sling the Mesh, has heard many similar stories from among the group’s 9,700 members. 

“The lack of action on financial redress is the biggest disappointment for women,” she says. “Pelvic mesh caused lifelong damage, and worse, the majority of us were not given any information on the risks. It’s not our fault this happened to us."

“Some women have been left disabled in wheelchairs or walking with sticks. Others have had organs removed where mesh has turned brittle and sliced into them. Seven in 10 have lost their sex life. Everyone suffers chronic pain in varying degrees. Women have lost jobs, marriages, homes, and their quality of life.”

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Source: iNews, 18 August 2022

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