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'I have pain every day, every hour, every minute. It never goes away': What it’s like to live with surgical mesh

Women have been speaking to ITV Wales about the chronic pain they are suffering after having surgical mesh - as fresh calls are made for it to be banned.

Karen's Story:

I had vaginal mesh surgery in 2014 after suffering with stress incontinence after having a big 10lb baby.

They offered me a TVT operation and said I'd be in hospital just one day. I ended up being in for eight days - the pain after surgery was instant.

Before this operation I was happy, enjoyed exercise and had fun with the kids.

Now, I'm very limited as to what I can do. Pain is constant in my hip and thigh area and my groin and pelvis.

I take more than 20 tablets over the course of the day for nerve pain, depression and some to counteract the effects of the painkillers.

Karen Preater from Rhyl had vaginal mesh surgery in 2014. Credit: ITV Wales

You get really bad shooting pains, you don't know when they're going to come and it's like being sliced with cheese wire. I have pain intimately, it's constant, every day, every hour, every minute, it never goes away.

– Karen Preater

Rhian's Story:

In May I had a hernia fixed with a mesh. Since that day, I have been left in severe pain. I'm on morphine but the pain is chronic. It's seriously affecting my life and my mobility, my relationship. It swells, it hurts.

It's stopped me from being able to do the things I used to do, I can't walk far, I can't sleep , I can't lie on my left side , I have lost any intimate relationship with my husband, I can't play with my children.

I'm on constant morphine - I have begged them to take the mesh out but I just feel they are not taking it as seriously as they should be.

Rhian Doyle from Llanfairfechan is suffering after mesh hernia repair. Credit: ITV Wales

Physically, I can't walk, I can't bend, I can't sleep at night, I wake up in severe pain even with morphine. I'm getting my eight-year-old son to put my socks on because I'm in so much pain, I can't dress myself... it's awful, it's not fair.

– Rhian Doyle

What is surgical mesh?

Surgical mesh is made of polypropylene plastic - the same material used to make plastic bottles. It can shrink, twist, degrade and cut or erode into nearby tissues and organs, causing chronic pain.

What's it used for?

It is used to treat incontinence, prolapse and hernias.

Why is it used?

It is popular as it is a cheap and quick fix and takes less surgical skill than traditional, native tissue repairs. It is also strong and provides a longer term solution.

Find out more:

ARGUMENT FOR MESH TO BE BANNED

Doctor Sohier Elneil specialises in vaginal mesh removals.

She completes up to six removals a week.

She feels medical mesh should be temporarily withheld from any surgical procedure until we know more about it.

Dr Elneil argues medical mesh should be banned until more is known about the after effects. Credit: ITV Wales

BENEFITS OF MESH

However, Wales' Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton says benefits of mesh treatment can’t be ignored.

Mesh has helped many women. I don’t think a temporary ban would be appropriate. What’s important is that people in Wales have access to good quality information and are aware of the benefits and risks of these treatments.

– Dr Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales

The Welsh Government says it is aware of concerns over mesh surgery and is working with clinicians and patients to determine what to do next.

Watch more here:

Watch Alexandra Hartley's full report here: