There has recently been a renewed surge in media reporting about the potential side effects of vaginal mesh implants and the serious health implications they can have for women. This has arisen following the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme’s recent exclusive feature on this subject.

Vaginal mesh implants are a form of treatment for pelvic organ prolapse. They are usually implanted following childbirth to prevent pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the tissues that hold the pelvic organs in place become weak or stretched. When pelvic organ prolapse occurs, the organs bulge (prolapse) into the vagina and sometimes past the vaginal opening. More than one pelvic organ can prolapse at the same time. Organs that can prolapse include the bladder, the uterus, the rectum, the top of the vagina (vaginal apex) after a hysterectomy, and the bowel.

Vaginal mesh implants are made from porous absorbable or non-absorbable synthetic material, or absorbable biologic material.

Frequent complications reported regarding vaginal mesh implants include:

  • Mesh erosion through the vagina (also called exposure, extrusion or protrusion)

  • Pain

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)

  • Organ perforation

  • Urinary problems

Other complications could include recurrent prolapse, neuro-muscular problems, vaginal scarring/shrinkage, and emotional problems.

Many of these complications require additional intervention, revision surgery and hospitalization.

These complications have historically resulted in a number of clinical negligence claims against the NHS and product liability claims against various US manufacturers of these implants.

As a result of a large number of complaints about the vaginal mesh implants, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) conducted a review in 2014. The review determined that the benefits outweigh the risks; however concerns have been raised about the number of adverse incidents that have been reported. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has carried out similar reviews and has strengthened clinical requirements to address the safety risks caused by these implants.

There has recently been a renewed interest in bringing claims as more and more women come forward with serious injuries that have arisen as a result of vaginal mesh implants. Media sources report that more than 800 women in the UK are taking legal action against the NHS and manufacturers.

Freeths have successfully brought several claims for injuries caused by vaginal mesh implants and have experience of bringing claims against both the NHS and US manufacturers.

If you have been affected by a vaginal mesh implant please contact us for a free, confidential discussion about your options on 01865 781093 or