Worried About Synthetic Vaginal Mesh?

“In most cases, pelvic organ prolapse can be treated successfully without [synthetic] mesh, thus avoiding the risk of mesh-related complications.” -U.S. Food and Drug Administration

In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration became concerned that synthetic mesh placed in the vagina to treat vaginal prolapse (dropping) had an unacceptably high rate of problems.

In 2011, the FDA confirmed that use of synthetic vaginal mesh could result in serious, ongoing complications. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Urogynecologic Society issued a joint statement saying that synthetic vaginal mesh placed in the vagina should only be used in cases of high-risk women where the benefits may outweigh the risks. In these cases, surgeons should receive training specific to the synthetic vaginal mesh device and provide detailed patient counseling and education on the risk, benefits and alternatives to the procedure.  

Women who are experiencing complications resulting from synthetic vaginal mesh surgery may require additional surgery to correct the problem. 

“If a woman has had [synthetic] mesh implanted but is not experiencing any symptoms, no treatment is necessary, but her doctor should monitor her for potential complications.” -Dr. Cheryl B. Iglesia, American College of Obestetrics and Gynecology

“It’s important that both physicians and patients dialogue about pelvic organ prolapse surgery so they can review treatment options and make informed decisions about care.” -Dr. Matthew B. Barber, American Urogynecologic Society

But Wait, My Doctor Says I Need a Mesh Implant? 

While medical associations and the FDA recommend that vaginally placed synthetic (artificial) mesh be used only as a last resort in high-risk vaginal prolapse cases where there are no other options, other forms of mesh are still safely and widely used. Synthetic mesh may be safely used if physicians are performing vaginal prolapse surgery using an abdominal approach, for example. In addition, doctors may use biologic mesh (from animal tissue) or a patient’s own tissue (native tissue) during vaginal prolapse surgery. 

Also, patients should note that synthetic mesh remains the gold standard as a treatment for stress urinary incontinence. According to the FDA, the procedure is “safe and effective and has a long-lasting effect on a patient’s life.” Read the American Urogynecologic Society and the Society of Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine & Urogenital Reconstruction official position statement supporting the safety and benefits of mesh to treat stress urinary incontinence. 

The FDA continues to review the use of synthetic mesh in these and other procedures.

Additional statements:

Have More Questions? Ask a Nurse

To find out more about vaginal mesh or other concerns, leave a message on our Consult-a-Nurse line. Our practiced urogynecological nurses will respond to your question within 48 hours. Call 706-446-5906.