Port Lincoln women report in national vaginal mesh implant complications survey

TROUBLE: Vaginal mesh technology has been used to treat complications caused by childbirth.

TROUBLE: Vaginal mesh technology has been used to treat complications caused by childbirth.

The complications of Transvaginal Mesh Implants are not spoken of lightly, however at least four women in Port Lincoln have reported their troublesome experiences.

As a class action against medical giant Johnson and Johnson begins in New South Wales over the company’s transvaginal mesh device, complications surrounding mesh implants have been now reported locally.

Victorian-based not-for-profit consumer advocate Health Issues Centre (HIC) conducted a survey on the impact of pelvic mesh implants for submission to a federal Senate inquiry.

More than 2000 women have been surveyed by HIC across Australia, with four women from Port Lincoln responding to the survey.

The technology has been used to treat complications caused by childbirth, pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic organ prolapse.

Of those respondents who had implants, about half claim to have been adversely affected, citing problems such as chronic incontinence, abdominal pain, painful intercourse and marital breakdown.

The Senate inquiry was seeking to understand the extent of the technology’s use in Australia as no records of mesh implant procedures performed in Australia have been kept. 

Health Issues Centre chief executive officer Danny Vadasz said while the figures were just the “tip of the iceberg”, they were finally providing a clearer picture of the unfolding tragedy. 

“Even the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is conducting its own due diligence into the adverse impact of the implants, has had minimal success,” Mr Vadasz said.

Mr Vadasz said he believed the transvaginal mesh tragedy would eclipse the Thalidomide disaster of the ‘50s and ‘60s which was estimated to have affected approximately 200 women across Australia.

The class action against Johnson and Johnson in NSW is being filed by 700 women.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care estimates 100,000 women have had pelvic mesh implants since the late 1990s but the number of women who have been adversely impacted is unknown.

The HIC’s survey and study is ongoing and can be accessed online.

The findings of the Health Issues Centre survey as of May, 2017:

  • 73 per cent of the 1,571 respondents had undergone mesh implants. This equated to 1,141 women.
  • 49 per cent of the 1,141 women said they experienced adverse effects from their mesh implant. 415 cited incontinence, 318 abdominal pain, 313 pain during intercourse and 127 breakdown of their marriage or other personal relationship.
  • 41 per cent of women who had been adversely impacted believe they were not fully informed before agreeing to the procedure. Another 22 per cent felt things had not gone according to what they had originally been told, leaving 35 per cent that believe they had made an informed choice.
  • 34 per cent of the women reported their adverse impact as “discomforting” while 30 per cent said it was “debilitating” and 12 per cent “unendurable”.
  • While 61per cent of the women who had been adversely impacted sought remedial medical assistance, only 10.6 per cent reported this made things better. For 40 per cent it didn’t make any difference while for 11 per cent it made matters worse. 39 per cent were simply told there was nothing that could be done.
  • 48 per cent of overall respondents were over the age of 60.