A guest post concerning postpartum health from our friends at Drugwatch.com:
After a woman gives birth, she can become overwhelmed with the advice she receives regarding infant care, breastfeeding, proper sleep techniques, and so on. She may be instructed to do Kegel exercises in order to prevent postpartum incontinence. However, postpartum reproductive health care does more than just prevent annoying stress incontinence. It can prevent the onset of a common condition called Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).
Women who develop healthy reproductive health habits early on have a lower chance of being diagnosed with POP later on in life. Some methods used to treat POP have been linked to serious health complications, so working to avoid POP is worth the effort.
What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
As many as 50 percent of women will develop some form of POP in their lifetime, although most women will never experience any symptoms. Usually diagnosed during menopause, POP is a condition in which pelvic tissues and muscles begin to weaken. This weakening can allow organs, such as the bladder, uterus and rectum to drop. In worst-case scenarios, the organs can bulge, or drop, into the vaginal canal.
There are several ways to prevent and/or treat POP. Some of these treatments are considered non-invasive and have little to no risk. Other treatments involve surgical intervention to rebuild support in the pelvic region. In these cases, the risks can be more severe. One common surgical procedure used to reverse POP uses a medical device called transvaginal mesh. Unfortunately, this mesh material has been linked to thousands of reports of complications, many of which are serious and/or permanent.
What is Transvaginal Mesh?
Transvaginal mesh was introduced as a surgical solution to POP about a decade ago. It can be made from synthetic or biologic materials. It is inserted through the vagina and used like a hammock to support pelvic organs. When the surgery is successful, the hammock-like mesh material prevents organs and tissues from further prolapse and stops POP from progressing.
Unfortunately, by the mid-2000s, an alarming number of health complications were being reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by women who had received transvaginal mesh implants. In 2008, the FDA issued its first warning to health care professionals about the growing number of complications. By 2011, a second warning was issued labeling transvaginal mesh as a risky medical device and stating that serious health complications related to the mesh were no longer rare.
Risks Associated with Transvaginal Mesh
Vaginal mesh products have a tendency to erode and/or protrude into vaginal tissues and surrounding organs. It can also contract over time, pulling tissues with it. These complications can cause pain, discomfort, repeat infections, pain during sexual intercourse and even chronic incontinence. Damage from transvaginal mesh can be very difficult to reverse. The women who have been harmed and are still experiencing the painful side effects, have filed surgical mesh lawsuits.
By prioritizing postpartum care, living a healthy lifestyle and committing to daily exercises that strengthen pelvic floor and core muscles, women can take an active role in their reproductive health, and minimize their chances of developing POP.