By Kath Sansom, founder Sling The Mesh campaign.
Are you the one in the exercise class who ducks out of star jumps? Or the mum who laughs about being scared to join in on the trampoline with the children or grandchildren.
Maybe a fit of hysterics has you running to the bathroom or perhaps you squeeze before you sneeze but that isn’t enough.
If you recognise the signs then maybe you are among the 1 in 3 women who suffer embarrassing accidents caused by the pressure of childbirth.
Running or high impact training can be a trigger, but whatever the reason, you can bet your bottom dollar, it kicks in just that little bit more at the onset of menopause when muscles and tissue weaken.
Being a woman throughout the years has pitfalls and problems. Suffering incontinence – even that word is grim – is not the most attractive health problem to admit to.
Enter the other “hello 40 plus or menopause” badge caused by weakened tissues – pelvic organ prolapse, where one of your organs migrates down into the vaginal or rectal space. Not dinner party conversation and certainly not one to drop in during an executive board meeting at work – but with both conditions there are many things you can try to fix or ease things naturally.
My first suggestion is this – and it may sound crazy. Bear with me.
Resist the gorgeous pair of heels calling your name in the shopping centre or eBay page. Say no to the night out with the girls. Forgo the take away.
Instead invest your £30 (ish) on a pelvic floor physiotherapy session. Yes you read that right – ditch shoes, wine or fast food for your down belows.
Just one session I promise. It could possibly be the best money spent as you will learn a skill for life. That is learning how to restore your core naturally so you steer well clear of operating theatres where NHS or private surgeons promise to fix you up good as new in just 20 minutes with a vaginal mesh implant. The possible complications are just not worth it.
I run a health campaign to raise awareness of the risks of an operation that is sold to women as a simple day case fix ideal for busy working mums.
Using a mesh implant made of polypropylene – the same plastic material used to make your drink bottles – it shores up weakened tissues in either a sling known as a TVT or TVTO or a mesh patch.
This miracle implant is hailed as the gold standard fix to your embarrassing problem.
Women are told it will change their lives. It can do that alright, but maybe not in a way you expected.
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For when it goes wrong this mesh implant carries life changing complications that cause sleepless nights of regret and women on pain medication for life.
I have 2,600 members in my Facebook support group called Sling The Mesh where every day I see the agony of women posting about their problems since having a mesh implant – from toothache-like pains in legs to cheese wiring pains in groins or burning and sore, agonising cutting pains. Many have lost their sex lives.
Imagine the worst cystitis you have ever suffered. Now triple it. And imagine that for the rest of your days. Because for some women that is life with a mesh implant.
Many are self catheterising for life – for those who don’t know what that means – it is pushing little sticks into your pee hole to be able to go to the toilet. Of course that leads to infections before you ask.
For some the mesh implant shrinks and cuts into the bowel, bladder, or cuts into nerve endings, slices through vaginal walls. The complications when it goes wrong are catastrophic. Some are in wheelchairs, walking using sticks or use mobility scooters.
On Sling The Mesh there are women joining daily suffering severe depression, anxiety and chronic pain all desperately seeking solutions – all of us wishing we had tried a less invasive route first.
Once the mesh is implanted it embeds into tissues after just six weeks. Trying to remove it is like trying to get chewing gum out of matted hair.
Even if women are lucky enough to get a referral to one of a handful of specialist removal surgeons in the UK they will never go back to being the woman they once were.
Every operation has risks – but these are unacceptable ones which no women are properly informed about.
So when I say forfeit the heels, wine or takeaway I mean it. It is not such a great sacrifice when you consider losing your quality of life could be the other option.
You might be the lucky one for whom it works with no problems but are you willing to take that gamble? Instead look up my page Sling The Mesh Natural Solutions – here I’ve gathered up in one handy space all the gadgets I’ve found that can fix incontinence or prolapse without going under the knife.
Here you can find a Fit Bit for your privates, a personal Jungle Gym, gadgets that look like they would be more at home in an Ann Summers catalogue, weighted cones and even jade eggs to help work your pelvic floor muscles.
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There are rings, pessaries, mobile phone apps that give out an alarm to remind you to squeeze, pretty knickers to protect you from life’s leaks and a gadget that emits an electronic pulse so you can restore your floor while watching TV.
Pelvic floor phsyios reckon that up to 80% of women can be eased or cured by keeping up with regular exercise of that one part of your body that you can’t show off how well you are exercising.
Give it a go – what have you got to lose? Absolutely nothing compared to mesh surgery where there literally is everything to lose if you are one of the unlucky ones for whom it goes wrong. Mesh implant complications make that one big risk way too far.
Kath Sansom is a journalist on a weekly newspaper. She launched Sling The Mesh women’s health campaign in 2015 after suffering from a vaginal mesh implant to treat mild incontinence stemming from the birth of her second daughter. She also campaigns to raise awareness to stop other women suffering from mesh implants, widely used in the NHS, to fix prolapse or incontinence and also promote natural solutions to pelvic floor problems often caused by childbirth, high impact training or onset of menopause. Find her on Twitter or Facebook
For ideas on how to fix incontinence or prolapse without resorting to surgery visit Sling The Mesh Natural Solutions.
Last Updated on February 1, 2023 by Editorial Staff