You’ve probably heard them before: lawyer ads and commercials that warn against the dangers and health risks of vaginal mesh and midurethral slings. With so much negative information out there, it can be difficult to distinguish between the realities and the rumors about the two. Below, Darlene Gaynor-Krupnick, DO, urologist at Lankenau Medical Center, dispels some of the most common myths surrounding vaginal mesh.
Myth: Midurethral slings and vaginal mesh are the same thing and used to treat the same problem.
Fact: Since advertisements often refer to ‘slings and mesh’ it can be easy to group the two together, but there are some significant differences between the two. Vaginal mesh is used to treat POP, or pelvic organ prolapsed, which occurs when the pelvic organ drops from its position in the lower abdomen to push against the walls of the vagina. Vaginal mesh as a treatment option for POP should only be used in very few circumstances, as it can present unpleasant symptoms later on. Midurethral slings are FDA-approved, and have long been considered the gold standard to treat stress urinary incontinence, which is the type of leakage that occurs when you cough, laugh, or sneeze. Slings can be placed in an outpatient setting, often in under a half hour.“The cautionary tales you hear are often so sensationalized that it has overshadowed the success of the midurethral sling as a way to treat stress urinary incontinence,” says Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick.
Myth: Vaginal mesh is made of harmful material.
Fact: The material used in vaginal mesh slings, called polypropylene, is very similar to the mesh products that have been used to treat hernias for many years, and has also been used in heart surgery, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, and transplant surgery. Medical studies have demonstrated long-term durability and safety.
Myth: Any gynecologist can offer this treatment and place mesh.
Fact: Although the placement of vaginal mesh has become a more routine procedure, the FDA recommends that only specially trained surgeons who have had experience in the treatment of pelvic floor disorders should place vaginal mesh. Before you decide on a doctor, be sure to find out what type of training and experience they have. Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick is one of few local urologists with training and experience in the placement of vaginal mesh.
Each patient case is unique and requires a close examination of a patient’s risk factors and medical history. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist about your questions or concerns regarding vaginal mesh. They’ll help you understand whether or not it’s the best choice for you. To make an appointment with Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick, or to find a physician in your area, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.