“Mesh Doctors” You Promised First To Do No Harm. What Happened? (Part 1)

Recent Articles Expose That Mesh Surgery Leaves Women Debilitated, Distraught and Living in Pain

Mesh surgeries for incontinence and organ prolapse have been in the forefront of the media for several years. Watch late night TV in America and you see that there are many class actions lawsuits occurring here in America as well as in Australia.

Recently, more media attention has risen because several hundred Australian women decided to stand up for their rights and say hell no we won’t take it anymore and bought a class action suit to the “mesh doctors.”

“Pelvic Mesh Patients Told To Deal With Sexual Dysfunction By Having Anal Sex,” by Gina Rushton and “Pelvic Mesh Victims Disgusted At Suggestion Of Anal Sex As Solution,” by Christopher Knaus, have both covered the mesh surgery injustice in their recent articles. These articles are extraordinary and bring awareness to a women’s health topic that is often ignored or overlooked.

After reading these articles I was outraged and disgusted.

I became even more determined to set the record straight from the perspective of a pelvic healer. Many of these women in the Australian class action lawsuit, as a result of these mesh surgeries, suffered from sexual dysfunction and pelvic pain.

I am alarmed and appalled that any doctor would ever recommend to have anal sex as a solution for pelvic floor dysfunction created by the surgeries they performed. What makes it even more disgusting to me as a medical professional is that these doctors thought it appropriate to speak to these women in such a disrespectful manner.


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Why didn’t these doctors recommend pelvic therapy first?

As a pelvic floor expert, I know that incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can rehabilitate with pelvic floor therapy. Pelvic floor physical therapy doesn’t have a hefty price tag nor does it carry life threatening complications. Pelvic physical therapy enhances life and restores function, while these mesh surgeries destroyed these women’s lives. Pelvic physical therapy works when all other treatments failed.

Pelvic floor physical therapy should be a part of every woman’s health care and must be recommended before any mesh surgery or any other surgery for female conditions. Many times the pelvic floor is the “missing link” that can give women their lives back and restore them to full function.

I treat many post-mesh surgery disasters. After these surgeries, women’s lives are destroyed. They experience new symptoms on top of the original symptoms of prolapse, pelvic pain, incontinence and or pelvic pressure.

The one question that I asked myself is, why didn’t these women come to me before they got the surgery? Many times the women tell me that the surgeries were presented to them as quick fixes with little or no consequences.

It is heartbreaking to hear that the patients were never told by their doctors that the surgery could have serious complications. Furthermore, I often hear from the women tell me that they didn’t know that pelvic floor therapy existed for incontinence or POP.

Another question that needs to be addressed is, Why are doctors still in the dark and why don’t they recommend pelvic floor therapy? Many of the women that I treat tell me they are angry at their doctors for their lack of transparency and for not telling them that there was a more holistic, integrative, and natural treatment for incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Some women have said that the mesh surgeries were present in a matter of fact kind of way and that the complications were not fully explained to them.

Mesh surgeries can carry serious complications such as mesh erosion, infection, sexual pain, organ perforation, urinary problems, as well as, psychological and spiritual pain. Many of these physical complications require additional surgeries to fix the complications, but the scars on our souls and on our lives are not so easy to fix.

So this is a vicious circle of madness, many times with no end in sight, and at the end the women are left suffering, debilitated, and fending for themselves.

Recommending anal sex as a solution, shows how out of touch doctors Down Under are when it comes to women’s health issues.

The women in the Australian class action lawsuit were told to have anal sex as a solution for their sexual dysfunction, which was a direct result of the mesh surgeries. Really? Anal sex? That’s the best these doctors could up with? I find this recommendation of anal sex made by these “doctors” short sighted, disgraceful, disrespectful and misogynistic.

Imagine what your response would be when you ask a doctor whom you trust, what you should do, because sex is painful, and their response is, “have anal sex.” Unbelievable!

Women who undergo these surgeries are often misled and not properly informed of the consequences of these mesh surgeries. These surgeries are often presented as a quick fix and many women innocently fall prey to this type of recommendation. Where is the informed consent? Where is the honesty?

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Alarming statistics regarding mesh surgery

Health Issues Centre (HIC) a healthcare consumer advocacy group in Australia surveyed a group of mesh surgery patients to determine how women were adversely affected by the surgeries.

As of today, they have gotten back 2,000 surveys of which 1500 women had the mesh surgery, and another 300 didn’t know if they had the surgery. Their findings are shocking and have thus far revealed the following:

  • 59% of women said that the procedure did not resolve their original issue.
  • 35% of women felt that were not fully informed before the procedure.
  • 23% of women suffered additional, more severe symptoms.
  • 32% of the women said they felt they had debilitating symptoms.
  • 12% of women stated they had unendurable symptoms
  • 25% of women had personal relationships break down.
  • 39% of women were told by their doctors there was nothing they could do about it.

The final details will be posted once the inquiry is completed. What’s interesting to note is that the HIC survey is fully confidential anonymous and still active so please fill it out if you are Australian and had had a mesh surgery or think you had one.

This survey has given the Australian women the vehicle by which to express themselves fully. Until this survey was initiated, much of the research on mesh surgeries reported positive outcomes.

These types of findings can be found among American women as well. Our own FDA has made this position on mesh surgeries:

  • The FDA states that in most cases POP can be treated successfully without a mesh thus avoiding mesh related complications.
  • The FDA also states that doctors need specialized surgical training and that informed consent must be presented to the patients with all pros and cons so that women can make a more informed choice.
The Solution

Pelvic floor physical therapy should be the first course of action and recommended to all women by all MDs before any mesh, prolapse or another female surgery is performed.

I firmly believe that the pelvic floor therapy is the missing link and should be a part of all women’s healthcare. Having doctors recommend pelvic floor therapy and pelvic education to women can and will prevent a large amount of suffering and eliminate unnecessary surgeries.

The time is now that we as pelvic floor professionals and as women stand up against this type of medical bullying and let our voices be heard.

Mesh doctors to you I say:

We matter. Women’s lives matter. Mesh Doctors you took a Hippocratic oath to first do no harm, and it is your duty to bring back integrity to the field of women’s health and put your patient’s first now and always. Lives before profits!

In part 2 of this blog thread I am going to go into detail on what we can do as professionals to help women improve prolapse conditions and go into some details on the right questions women can ask their doctors if they are recommended to undergo mesh surgery. We cannot tolerate this type of incompetence and lack of understanding from professionals that should know better.

Be on the Lookout for Part 2 Coming Soon Where I Give You Strategies to Overcome POP…

In the meantime, below are some resources for you to help educate and bring awareness to this unnecessary dilemma created by the medical profession.

Resources:

http://www.healthissuescentre.org.au/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ginarushton/pelvic-mesh-patients-told-to-deal-with-sexual-dysfunction?utm_term=.xe28Rdnz9v#.vhE1Vyaqm7

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/28/pelvic-mesh-victims-disgusted-at-suggestion-of-sodomy-as-solution

Check this site that contains what the FDA is currently stating about mesh surgeries. (https://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/implantsandprosthetics/urogynsurgicalmesh/)



About the Author
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ISA HERRERA, MSPT, CSCS

Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS is a New York City-based holistic women’s pelvic floor specialist, author of 3 books on pelvic health, including the ground-breaking self-help book, Ending Female Pain, A Woman's Manual. She has dedicated her career to advancing awareness of pelvic floor conditions so that more people can find relief from this silent epidemic that affects over 30 million people in the US alone. Ms. Herrera holds a BA in Psychology and Biology from Fordham University and also a Masters in Physical Therapy from Hunter College. Click here for a complete bio.