Vaginal mesh victims share tales of pain

Women who have experienced complications from transvaginal mesh implants have shared their stories at a Senate inquiry in Canberra.

Harriett used to begin her busy days at 5am to get her five little people out the door.

Now the mother from Brisbane says she relies on medication so she can simply smile at her children through the pain of having had a transvaginal mesh implant.

She was one of four women who publicly shared their experience to a Senate committee in Canberra on Tuesday.

Harriett's surgeon told her he could fix her stage four pelvic organ prolapse and she would be "like a 16-year-old again".

Instead complications have meant it has since been partially removed and she is left with the shooting pain of nerve damage.

"I now have pain every day of my life. Not intermittent pain, forever pain," she told the committee.

Suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and now depression, Harriett faces going without doctors appointments so she can pay for school fees.

"The pain slowly kills your soul. You cannot concentrate, stop it or run from it," she said.

"It never goes away."

Stephanie from regional Queensland was assured her surgery had a high success rate, but has also been in intense pain ever since.

She was grateful for the Senate committee but is angry its inquiry is needed.

"It is hard enough to endure such suffering without having to share the most intimate and personal details to the world," she said.

Toni from regional NSW, who had her implant in 2014, said one bit of good news for her is that she's been able to get a disability status under the new NDIS.

The hearings come as 800 women fight in a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, claiming their vaginal mesh implants have left them in pain.

The company's managing director Gavin Fox-Smith told senators on Monday it was incredibly tough to hear stories from women in pain or suffering.

However, stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse were complex conditions and surgical intervention remained an important treatment option, he said.

The company maintains it has acted ethically and responsibly in the research, development and supply of its products.

Two of its pelvic mesh devices have been removed from the Australian market after the Department of Health asked for more information to be added to the instructions for their use.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare told Tuesday's hearing work on a guidance for patients will be released in coming months.

The commission's Dr Robert Herkes said the rate of complications for mesh implants due to pelvic organ prolapse was at least 15 per cent and maybe up to 30 per cent.

Complications for stress urinary incontinence is much lower at about two to five per cent.

Source: AAP

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch