Study links higher risk of depression and suicide for women with pelvic mesh complications

Pelvic mesh is a popular surgical option for women suffering from stress-induced urinary incontinence, but a new study out of ICES Western and Lawson shows that those who deal with the uncommon complications from the surgery are at a higher risk of depression and self-harm.

Mesh slings are surgically implanted in the vaginal wall to treat urinary leaks and account for more than 90 per cent of incontinence procedures for women.

“There have been regulatory warnings and lawsuits related to significant transvaginal mesh complications. We wanted to quantify the serious psychological complications that can occur in women as a result of complications from transvaginal midurethral slings,” said Dr. Blayne Welk, senior author of the study.

Researchers found that nearly three per cent of women underwent a surgical procedure for a mesh complication. Of those women, 11 per cent were treated for depression compared to eight per cent of women who didn’t have corrective surgery.

 Of the women who needed corrective surgery, nearly three per cent of women suffered from self-harm behaviour compared to only roughly one per cent of women who did not need corrective surgery.

The risks were found to be highest in younger women.

“Younger women are the ones who are most at risk of these mental health complications, and we suspect that’s because of a stronger negative association between the complications and intimacy among this age group,” says Welk.