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Mother claims she was left with PTSD because of vaginal mesh

A 51-year-old mother claims that her partner dumped her because her controversial vaginal mesh implant sliced his penis during sex.

Theresa Bartram, from East Sussex, had the scandal-hit device removed following the incident – only to end up single two months later.

The former health worker has been left battling post-traumatic stress disorder and unable to work after undergoing the ‘barbaric’ procedure.

She is one of thousands of women who have been tainted by vaginal mesh. Many have been on the brink of suicide or left in wheelchairs. 

Before the decision for the removal of the brittle plastic, which can curl, twist and cut through tissue, she also experienced unbearable pain and infections.

Like hundreds of other victims, she claims she was told the agony was all in her head and was offered anti-psychotic drugs. Her own family dismissed her concerns.

She is now planning on suing Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, where she was fitted with a TVT sling in 2007. It was removed three years ago.  

Relentless fights by campaigners have led to the Government announcing an audit into the ‘barbaric’ procedure and banning one type of mesh completely.

Theresa Bartram, from East Sussex, is one of thousands of women who have been tainted by the scandal-hit vaginal mesh procedure

Ms Bartram, who is now barely able to walk, is the latest in a chain of ‘meshed up’ women to speak about their horrific ordeal.

She said: ‘I had the sling put in because I had a mild prolapse while giving birth standing up, and was told that it was the “gold standard” for women like me.

‘The doctor said the risks were minimal, it was fantastic, and there was only a one per cent chance of infection – I had no idea at all that it could cut through me.

‘In 2010, it cut my partner during sex because it had perforated my vaginal walls after three years.

‘I blew up – I was hugely swollen and looked eight months pregnant – so I went to A&E, but they said I was fine and to go home.’

Ms Bartram revealed that bungling doctor actually looked at someone else’s blood results – meaning they failed to sport her liver and pancreas problems. 

She added: ‘I felt so sick, I kept falling asleep in conversations and on the phone and was sleeping for 18 hours a day.

‘I had swollen up all over and I spent five-and-a-half years going from doctor to doctor and they all told me I wanted to be ill and it was all in my head – they tried to give me anti-psychotic medication.

‘Eventually in summer 2015, I was able to see a gynecologist, who admitted that the mesh was cutting through my vaginal wall.

‘It smelt like I had leg ulcers and I didn’t know what was going on, it was only later that the penny dropped with the doctors that it was the mesh.

‘I had been screaming it from the rooftops and no one listened – even my own family.’


A 65-year-old grandfather slammed the controversial vaginal mesh procedure that destroyed the life of his beloved wife and left her contemplating suicide.

John Sharman, from Reading, revealed Lynne’s heartbreaking account of the scandal-hit surgery in December.

The father-of-three said it left her in unbearable pain and unable to have sex, following the emergence of hundreds of similar stories.

John Sharman, from Reading, revealed Lynne's heartbreaking account of the scandal-hit surgery in December

John Sharman, from Reading, revealed Lynne’s heartbreaking account of the scandal-hit surgery in December

Speaking to MailOnline, he explained her painstaking ordeal from a man’s point-of-view, often forgotten amid the scores of women who have spoken.

Mr Sharman announced he has sometimes thought about leaving Mrs Sharman, who he has been married to for 43 years, due to the effect the mesh has had on their marriage.

Mr Sharman, who met his wife at a chess club, told MailOnline: ‘It does impact your relationship and now I’m more of her carer than I am her lover and a husband.

‘She has been left in constant pain which has totally altered our sex life, social life and the way we operate and what we do.’

Ms Bartram finally had the sling removed at Eastbourne District General Hospital in November 2015, in a three-hour operation, described as ‘very violent’.

It took five months for the wound to heal, and she has even developed an allergy to five antibiotics since the mesh’s removal, meaning she struggles with any infection. 

Ms Bartram, whose partner left her two months after the penis-slicing incident, added: ‘I can’t work because of all the pain I’m in.

‘I have a constant low level electrical buzz all over my body, I’m sore all over, with shooting pains in both ankles and my left elbow.

‘Because my pelvic floor has been cut through, holding my body up is a struggle and I’m constantly incontinent.

‘I’ve had sepsis even after the mesh was removed, which you don’t expect, and still now I’m having treatment for PTSD – which is difficult, because I’m still living in this trauma.’  

Ms Bartram is now hoping to take legal action against the hospital and the tape manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson.

A 51-year-old woman in the US was awarded £42.5 million by the pharmaceuticals company last September.

Her case revealed that the implant was launched without a clinical trial, and then marketed for five years despite the company discovering it had a higher failure rate than two similar devices.

Ms Bartram wants to instruct a solicitor, but is unable to access legal aid and is currently on benefits.

She said: ‘I’m going to get legal advice, but I have no money.’

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust refused to comment on her individual case. However, a spokesperson said her consultant no longer works there.

They added that vaginal mesh is ‘no longer being inserted at the Trust for vaginal wall prolapse’. But added it remains an option of urinary stress incontinence.

The spokesperson said they have conducted eight vaginal wall prolapse treatments since March 2018 – but no patient reported pain and none needed a removal. 

NHS England estimates 100,000 women have undergone the procedure since it was introduced for surgeons to treat incontinence and prolapse in the 1990s.

Chiefs have remained adamant that only three per cent of patients will experience complications of vaginal mesh, which can curl, twist and cut through tissue.

However, an array of trials into mesh – made of brittle plastic – have revealed the true rate of serious side effects is likely to be nearer the 10 per cent figure.  

At least 4,800 women have suffered lacerations and nerve damage from the mesh in England, but only 1,000 have reported it to the MHRA.

However, campaigners stress these are just the tip of the iceberg and that actually there are thousands more – but they have been kept silent.



Vaginal mesh implants are devices used by surgeons to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence in women.

Usually made from synthetic polypropylene, a type of plastic, the implants are intended to repair damaged or weakened tissue in the vagina wall.

Other fabrics include polyester, human tissue and absorbable synthetic materials.

Some women report severe and constant abdominal and vaginal pain after the surgery. In some, the pain is so severe they are unable to have sex.

Infections, bleeding and even organ erosion has also been reported.

Vaginal mesh implants are devices used by surgeons to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence in women

Vaginal mesh implants are devices used by surgeons to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence in women


Mini-sling: This implant is embedded with a metallic inserter. It sits close to the mid-section of a woman’s urethra. The use of an inserter is thought to lower the risk of cutting during the procedure.

TVT sling: Such a sling is held in place by the patient’s body. It is inserted with a plastic tape by cutting the vagina and making two incisions in the abdomen. The mesh sits beneath the urethra.

TVTO sling: Inserted through the groin and sits under the urethra. This sling was intended to prevent bladder perforation.

TOT sling: Involves forming a ‘hammock’ of fibrous tissue in the urethra. Surgeons often claim this form of implant gives them the most control during implantation.

Kath Samson, a journalist, is the founder of Sling The Mesh

Kath Samson, a journalist, is the founder of Sling The Mesh

Ventral mesh rectopexy: Releases the rectum from the back of the vagina or bladder. A mesh is then fitted to the back of the rectum to prevent prolapse.


According to the NHS and MHRA, the risk of vaginal mesh pain after an implant is between one and three per cent.

But a study by Case Western Reserve University found that up to 42 per cent of patients experience complications.

Of which, 77 per cent report severe pain and 30 per cent claim to have a lost or reduced sex life.

Urinary infections have been reported in around 22 per cent of cases, while bladder perforation occurs in up to 31 per cent of incidences.

Critics of the implants say trials confirming their supposed safety have been small or conducted in animals, who are unable to describe pain or a loss of sex life. 

Kath Samson, founder of the Sling The Mesh campaign, said surgeons often refuse to accept vaginal mesh implants are causing pain.

She warned that they are not obligated to report such complications anyway, and as a result, less than 40 per cent of surgeons do.