A study conducted by a
research team at the University of Sheffield has used polyurethane as the new material to develop vaginal meshes
- 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
- Vaginal meshes are used to treat
pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence which affects almost
fifty percent of
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.
"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.
‘Polyurethane vaginal meshes that are softer and flexible could become a safer solution for women affected by postmenopausal complications.’
Properties of the
polyurethane vaginal mesh:
- Flexible, softer and does not
- 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.
- Vaginal Mesh Research - (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/sheffield-university-vaginal-mesh-research-1.761761)