More than 800 UK women are taking legal action against the NHS and the makers of vaginal mesh implants, the Victoria Derbyshire programme has learned. The implants are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but some can cut into the vagina – causing severe discomfort. Some women have been left in permanent pain, unable to walk, work or have sex. One called the implants “barbaric”. The UK regulatory body MHRA said it “sympathises” with the women affected. Kate Langley had to give up her business as a childminder because the pain was so intense she could not look after the children. The surgeon who first examined her, she explained, “could see the [mesh] tape had come through my vagina – protruding through. “The mesh had cut its way through – like a cheese-wire.” Other women, reporting similar symptoms, have said the perforation was so severe their partners had been injured by the mesh during sex. Ms Langley, who described the meshes as “barbaric”, said she has had 53 hospital admissions to try to end the pain, but the mesh was so near the nerve it could not be fully removed.  She has been left in permanent pain by the implants and has nerve damage. The plastic meshes are made of polypropylene – the same material used to make certain drinks bottles – and manufactured by many different companies. They are used to ease incontinence and to support organs such as the vagina, uterus, bowel, bladder or urethra which have prolapsed after childbirth. Claire Cooper began to experience pain three years after her operation. Doctors wrongly believed the source of discomfort was her womb, which she had had removed at the age of 39. When the pain continued, she said a GP told her she was imagining it The news made her want to take her own life. She said she “mapped out” her suicide, but wanted to live on for her children.

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