What is a vaginal pessary?

A vaginal pessary is a removable plastic device placed into the vagina to help to support areas of pelvic organ prolapse. The pessary is most often used to reduce prolapse of the uterus (womb).

A pessary can also help to support a cystocele (when your bladder droops down into your vagina) or a rectocele (when the wall of your rectum bulges into the bottom of your vagina).

When are vaginal pessaries used?

Pessaries are used as a non-surgical approach to the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse.

They can be used in women who have other serious chronic health problems, such as heart or lung disease, that make a surgical procedure more dangerous. Pessaries can be used when the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse are mild or when childbearing is not complete.

Pessaries are sometimes used to see what the effect of surgery for pelvic organ prolapse will be on urinary symptoms. This is called a "pessary test." If you have a problem with incontinence with a pessary inserted, a separate surgical operation to fix the incontinence problem may be done at the same time as the prolapse surgery

How well does it work?

Pessaries do not cure pelvic organ prolapse but help to manage progression of the prolapse. Symptoms improve in many women who use a pessary, and for some women the symptoms go away.

How is pessary fitted?

Your health professional will fit your pessary to hold the pelvic organs in position without causing discomfort. Pessaries come in a variety of sizes and should be fitted carefully. You may need to experiment with different kinds of pessaries to find one that feels right for you. The pessary must be changed every 4 to 6 months.

Does removal/insertion the vaginal ring hurt?

Most women say that the experience of removingl/inserting the ring is not as bad as they had imagined. You will probably feel some discomfort but not too much pain.

Are there any risks or side effects of having a vaginal pessary?

You may notice more vaginal discharge than normal. Your vaginal discharge may also develop an odour. Vaginal irritation is another possible side effect. Women who are past the menopause may need to use oestrogen cream to help relieve the irritation.

Vaginal erosions and ulcers that can cause some vaginal bleeding are reported in around 1 in 6 women. Other common side effects include stress urinary incontinence, interference with sexual intercourse, and difficulty with bowel movements. Urinary tract infections have been reported in 1 in 9, and bacterial inflammation of the vagina in up to 1 in 3 pessary users.

Complications can be minimised by having a pessary that fits correctly and does not put too much pressure on the wall of the vagina. Your pessary should be checked frequently by your health professional until both of you are satisfied with the fit.

External links

Vaginal ring pessaries Correctly fitted ring pessary