Health In Focus
  • Newly developed vaginal meshes made with polyurethane closely resemble human tissue and are much softer and elastic than the current material used for vaginal meshing; they are also infused with hormone estrogen which speeds up the healing process following the procedure.
  • Vaginal meshes are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence which affects almost fifty percent of postmenopausal women.

A study conducted by a research team at the University of Sheffield has used polyurethane as the new material to develop vaginal meshes instead of polypropylene, the current material that is used for meshing. The new mesh material is softer, flexible and closer in characteristics to the human tissue. It also contains the hormone estrogen, which is released into the pelvic floor when inserted and speeds the healing process following the procedure. The study is published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics.

The need for vaginal meshes

Fifty percent of post-menopausal women are affected by pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. These conditions affect the normal sex life and quality of life of affected women. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ like the bladder, drops from its normal place in the lower abdomen and pushes against the walls of the vagina. While these conditions happen after childbirth, they only become apparent after menopause when the protective female hormones no longer protect the pelvic region. Many women with these conditions choose to undergo a vaginal mesh procedure.

Polypropylene vaginal mesh

A vaginal mesh is aimed to give permanent support to the weakened organs. The current vaginal meshing material, polypropylene, has resulted in several complications such as chronic inflammation leading to pain and scar tissue formation around the implant and has even been banned in Australia.
Estrogen-Releasing Polyurethane Vaginal Mesh Could Replace Current Mesh That Causes Complications

"In certain procedures, for example, when the polypropylene mesh is used as a thin strip to support the urethra and reduce the symptoms of stress incontinence, the results show it is beneficial to the patient and carries relatively little risk," Professor Sheila MacNeil, Professor of Tissue Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield said. "However, when much bigger areas of the same material are inserted through the vagina to relieve pelvic organ prolapse, the complication rate is frankly unacceptable." she added.

Properties of the polyurethane vaginal mesh:
  • Flexible, softer and does not provoke inflammation.
  • More elastic than polypropylene and so more efficient to sustain pelvic organs - the bladder, bowel, and vagina which exert pressure on the pelvic floor every day.
  • Likeness to human tissue gives the material a more natural feel.
  • The material is infused with the female hormone estrogen which is released into the pelvic area. Estrogen stimulates cells to produce new tissue and form new blood vessels allowing tissue regeneration which ultimately speeds up the healing process. The strength and elasticity of the mesh were not compromised by the addition of estrogen.
The next step should involve rigorous clinical trials and once approved, the scientists hope this breakthrough research will have a hugely positive impact on millions of women across the globe.

References :
  1. Vaginal Mesh Research - (
Source: Medindia

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