Pessary for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

What Pessaries Are Used For and How They Work

If you have a new diagnosis or a history of pelvic organ prolapse, it is likely you have seen or heard the word “pessary”. A pessary is used to help treat the symptoms of pressure, heaviness, incontinence and pain. The concept of a supportive device for the pelvic organs has been around since Hippocrates, although health providers have made many improvements to the original wine-soaked pomegranate they used in 400 B.C.

What Is A Pessary?

  • A pessary is a soft, flexible device placed in the vaginal canal that helps support and lift the pelvic organs such as the bladder, uterus, and rectum. 
  • These devices aren’t just for your granny – they can be useful at any age and are very common. In fact, 86% of gynecologists use them daily when treating patients.

How Do I Get a Pessary?

  • Fittings – Pessaries are not one-size-fits all and require a fitting. But don’t get discouraged if the first one you have doesn’t feel quite right – there are plenty of changes that can be made to ensure a comfortable fit as well as a reduction in symptoms. Most studies report an 85% fitting success rate.
  • Correct Fit
    • It fits comfortably
    • It stays in place without falling out
    • You are able to comfortably use the bathroom
  • Follow Up Appointments – Physicians will schedule follow up appointments to ensure proper fitting and make adjustments as needed.

    Should I Consider A Pessary?

    • Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) – Research has shown that pessaries are able to prevent surgical interventions thought to be required for pelvic organ prolapse. In addition, some research has even shown pessaries have the same effects as surgical interventions. Severity of POP has not had any influence on pessary fittings.
    • Postpartum – Pessaries may be used between pregnancies to position pelvic organs during the healing phase.
    • Symptom Management – Three months using a pessary can improve symptoms, improve quality of life and improve a person’s perception of their body image.

    How Do I Care For A Pessary?

    • Wear Schedule – Pessaries can be worn for weeks up to 3 months before requiring removal for cleaning and you can insert/remove them by yourself.
    • Call Provider – if you have concerns or questions after your pessary has been fitted. 
    • Shelf Life – Most pessaries last a woman several years.

    What Role Does My Physical Therapist Play?

    • Education – Physical therapists are able to provide extensive education on the benefits of pessaries and whether you may be an appropriate candidate for a pessary fitting. 
    • Referral Source – We know providers in the area known for their skills in fittings as physical therapists are not able to provide a pessary fitting. 
    • Peace of Mind – Pessaries should not be a source of fear. A physical therapist can address any concerns, reservations, and fears about pessaries and hopefully provide you comfort and peace of mind moving forward.