ANDREA Walter is the woman whose former husband’s penis was “stabbed” while they were having sex, after mesh implanted in her body to treat incontinence eroded through her vaginal wall in 2012.
It happened six weeks after the surgery, and it happened again before her doctor twice trimmed the mesh that moved from inside her body into her vagina.
In a complaint in 2013 to the health regulator that cleared at least 88 mesh devices for use in Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Ms Walter said her husband was “stabbed numerous times”, until she had further surgery where the doctor stitched some of her vaginal wall over two areas where mesh protruded.
“So far, these areas haven't eroded back through my vagina, and my husband is no longer being stabbed when having sex,” Ms Walter said in her 2013 complaint.
By 2014 she had the mesh removed after a succession of problems including increased incontinence, bleeding and pain, and concern that her mesh would erode into her urethra and bladder.
In her complaint Ms Walter said she had the mesh implanted during a hysterectomy. She told the TGA her doctor said it was “a quick 10-20 minute procedure, that he could combine with the hysterectomy”.
“He said that complications were rare, and the TVT was very straightforward, with a very high rate of success,” she wrote.
She was implanted with Johnson & Johnson Gynecare TVT Exact mesh, and is one of 450 women in a class action run by Shine Lawyers against the company that will start in July.
So far, these areas haven't eroded back through my vagina, and my husband is no longer being stabbed when having sex.
“I liken the mesh to the blue tape that’s used around boxes if you get a fridge or something large like that. My doctor gave me some of the tape to feel before the operation. I didn’t understand how it went into me but it didn’t sound like it was an issue,” Ms Walter said.
“There was no talk that it could be causing my pain that was in my groin and legs, or that there could be a potential penis-severing incident.”
She said her husband swore when it first happened, but they thought the cause was sutures after the surgery.
he described her mesh as “like a ticking time bomb”, where “your body has something in it that it doesn’t want”. She cannot work full time and suffers permanent and long term complications.
A Senate inquiry will consider how mesh was cleared for use in Australia after the TGA cancelled 88 mesh devices because of lack of clinical evidence.
In a statement in August the TGA said complications were “most likely under-reported” and some patients may not realise their symptoms are mesh-related.
In a list of 30 possible complications or adverse events after mesh surgery, quietly released by the TGA in August after a meeting with members of the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group, it included mesh extrusion, exposure or erosion into the vagina or other structures or organs; a foreign body response; punctures or lacerations of vessels, nerves, structures or organs including the bladder, urethra or bowel.
Mesh complications could also include acute and chronic pain, pain during intercourse, neuromuscular problems including pain in the groin, thigh, leg, pelvic and abdominal area, recurrence of incontinence and vaginal discharge.
The TGA also noted that “exposed mesh may cause pain or discomfort to the patient’s partner during intercourse”.