More than 20 million women in the United States suffer from urinary incontinence, but devices intended to remedy the problem are at the center of thousands of lawsuits by women who claim the treatments ruined their lives.
Jennifer Ramirez says her incontinence wasn’t a serious problem for her. She opted to have transvaginal mesh implanted to keep the problem from getting worse following a hysterectomy. Now, she lives in constant pain. Just talking about it brings her to tears.
“Now my life has to revolve around having a restroom right there because when you have to go, you have to go or you will have an accident. It’s embarrassing and depressing,” Ramirez told KENS5 News.
Transvaginal mesh, made by several different manufacturers, is a type of surgical mesh that is used to treat pelvic floor disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. It is inserted through the vagina to shore up organs that have dropped, causing discomfort and pain.
However, it has been linked to serious complications, such as erosion into tissue and protrusion into neighboring organs, causing side effects such as chronic pain, disability, infections, bleeding, and painful intercourse. Many women require multiple surgeries to have the mesh removed. Some have died from complications.
Reports of problems prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011 to issue a safety communication that complications from transvaginal mesh were not uncommon and women should discuss the risks with their doctors before having the mesh implanted.
Earlier this month, the FDA announced that it is proposing stricter safety rules for transvaginal mesh, and reclassifying the devices from moderate risk to high risk, which would require the products to go through more rigorous safety trials.
The action, however, comes too late for Ramirez, who lives in constant pain. She has joined tens of thousands of women who have filed lawsuits against makers of transvaginal mesh products regarding the defective devices.