Sue Black, the Women's Equality Party candidate for London Mayor, has been forced to quit the race over health issues related to vaginal mesh (opens in new tab).
The candidate and party leader stepped down from the race this week, and explained that she was left with no choice but to quit because of complications related to the procedure.
"I have been suffering with some sort of pain and been very uncomfortable with not a lot of energy. I work full time and do a lot already so I made a decision about two or three weeks ago when I thought, 'How an earth am I going to run for mayor and do that really well?", she told inews (opens in new tab).
Sue's experience with vaginal mesh
The computer scientist was offered the procedure in 2005, after giving birth to her fourth child and experiencing minor incontinence.
"I was told I could either have this old fashioned operation using my own tissue - which would take three hours and require me to have about a week off work - or I could have a thirty minute operation and go home the same day", she explained.
"So, like millions of women, I went for the mesh and I had that done in, I think, 2005. I was amazing straight away - no incontinence at all - and I could go running without problems... I was extremely happy."
A few years later, Sue started experiencing excessive thirst and developing lumps on her body, and assumed it was menopause until her sister mentioned the controversy surrounding vaginal mesh.
She was asked to be referred to Sohier Elneil, a surgeon and specialist in the topic at UCLH, who told her the mesh was cutting through her urethra.
On Dr Elneil's recommendation, Sue had the mesh partially removed over a year ago - but had to go back in just before Christmas for another operation due to complications.
The procedure has left her anaemic and caused a number of infections. She had to be on six different courses of antibiotics and has been in pain and exhausted since, which ultimately led to her decision to step back.
"Like so many other women affected by the vaginal mesh scandal, I have been left with complications worse than the symptoms the mesh was meant to treat,” she said.
“It has turned my life upside down. When I first reported this, I was gaslighted by a healthcare system that too often disbelieves women’s pain.
“I won’t let the government ignore us too, by making it easier for companies to push dangerous products onto the market and into our bodies without proper research.
"At that time I was so upset that I didn't want to talk about it, but now I feel like I have to in order to help other women", she added.
The controversial story behind vaginal mesh
Vaginal mesh was introduced in 1998 to help treat women with mild incontinence or prolapse following childbirth, a hysterectomy, or the menopause. It consists of a plastic device being inserted into the vagina and act as support for neck of the bladder or urethra, and is designed to become embedded in the tissue.
While touted as the 'better option' by professionals as an alternative to a more invasive surgery, the procedure has had an increasing number of complaints from women who were left in agony.
Mariana is the editor of My Imperfect Life. She has previously worked for lifestyle titles including GoodtoKnow covering all aspects of women’s lifestyle - from the Royal Family, beauty and fashion to wellness and travel. She was nominated for AOP Digital Journalist of the Year in 2020, and for New Digital Talent of the Year at the 2016 PPA Digital Awards. She’s mildly obsessed with TV (reality TV shows included) and spends far too much time planning her next trip away.
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