Pessary

A pessary is a medical device that is inserted into the vagina. It can be used as a means for structural support or as a way to deliver medication. Pessaries do not mend prolapse, however they have the ability to decrease the symptoms of prolapse, allowing for a better quality of life.

Pessaries may be recommended by your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant
  • You recently had a baby
  • You are going to undergo prolapse surgery
  • You have health problems which would make prolapse surgery dangerous for you

Special nurses, doctors and physiotherapists can insert and correctly place a pessary. Anaesthetic is not necessary as the procedure is not usually uncomfortable. It is important to try a couple of different pessaries as they come in many shapes and sizes, you want to find one that is both comfortable and provides the correct support.

A pessary that is the correct size and in the right position allows you to conduct your normal daily activities, as you will not be able to feel your pessary. Having sexual intercourse with a pessary is fine and your partner should not be able to feel it.

NOTE:

A pessary of the wrong size will not end up elsewhere in your body, however it can fall out.

Pessaries are a long-term treatment for prolapse, however they should be changed every three-six months. Most women will need to visit a hospital or clinic in order to remove the pessary, however some women have the ability to do it themselves at home.

  • Can reduce or lessen the symptoms of vaginal prolapse
  • Does not stop you from being able to have sex
  • It is less invasive and less complicated than surgery.

You may experience some or all of these side effects, alternatively you may experience none.

The side effects include

  • Discharge that can potentially be smelly, bloody or coloured (uncommon)
  • Discomfort and irritation (common)
  • Trouble passing urine or wetting yourself (uncommon)
  • Pain or difficulty in releasing your bowels (uncommon)
  • The pessary becomes attached to the surrounding tissue therefore needing an operation to remove it (uncommon)

A majority of the listed side effects are small difficulties that can be easily managed with topical oestrogen creams or by removing the pessary for a short amount of time. The body gets a chance to take a break when the pessary is removed; therefore it is a good idea to routinely take the pessary out once a week overnight so the body has a chance to have a break as well as preventing the pessary from attaching to the surrounding tissue.