A pessary is a device commonly used as a nonsurgical treatment for pelvic organ prolapse. It may also help with stress urinary incontinence.
A pessary is made of soft, flexible, yet sturdy medical-grade silicone. It is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic floor and help hold up pelvic organs, such as the vagina, cervix, uterus, bladder, urethra, and/or rectum.
Your doctor may recommend that you use a pessary prior to surgery for pelvic organ prolapse – or it could be suggested as a standalone method to support prolapsed organs, depending on the severity of the prolapse. A pessary may also be used when pelvic organ prolapse occurs during pregnancy.
Types of Pessaries
Pessaries come in all sizes and shapes – which is a good thing, because every vagina is different. Your OB-GYN provider can help ensure the pessary you’ve decided on fits and suits your needs. As long the pessary you’ve selected fits you, it can be used for years.
Your OB-GYN provider may recommend a specific type of pessary depending on the organ that is prolapsed. For example:
- If you are experiencing a prolapse of the uterus (a uterine prolapse), a ring pessary is commonly recommended. A doughnut or inflatable pessary may be other options.
- For a prolapse of the bladder (called a cystocele) or when it is the rectum that has fallen out of place (rectocele), a saddle-shaped pessary called a Gehrung pessary may be used.
A proper fitting by an experienced OB-GYN is necessary to ensure the pessary is comfortable for you, can effectively support your pelvic organs, and won’t fall out or interfere with other bodily functions.
A properly fitted pessary:
- Will NOT interfere with your ability to urinate
- Will NOT hurt or feel uncomfortable
- Will NOT fall out, even when you are straining
Your Women’s HealthFirst provider will conduct a pelvic exam, during which different size pessaries may be inserted until the best fit is achieved. Most often, this is the largest size that is comfortable for you.
It will depend on the type of pessary you get. For example, a cube pessary is removed nightly. In many cases, however, you will be able to leave the device in for up to 6 months. Periodic removal and cleaning is recommended; most women opt to do this on a nightly or weekly basis.
The pessary device itself lasts about 5 years.
Yes. You will be fitted for a pessary that can be easily inserted and removed by you. Appropriate lubricant can be helpful, especially when inserting the device.
It will depend on the type of pessary you have. For example, some pessaries – like the Gellhorn and doughnut pessaries – fill the vagina and thus, will need to be removed prior to sexual intercourse. Others, like the ring pessary, can safely remain inside the vagina during penetrative sex.
Yes, periodic cleaning of the pessary is recommended. Ask your provider how often you should do this. Many women opt to remove it for cleaning on a daily or weekly basis.
Often, a provider will need to re-examine you once or twice a year, to ensure the pessary you’ve selected continues to work in a safe, effective, and comfortable manner. Depending on your condition and the severity of your pelvic organ prolapse, your provider may wish to see you more often than that.
Of course, if you are experiencing any symptoms related to pelvic organ prolapse or the use of a pessary, let your OB-GYN provider know right away.
Pessary Placement Services in Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Barrington & Bartlett, IL
A pessary is an excellent treatment option for pelvic organ prolapse. It is safe and effective, and can be worn during pregnancy, before surgery, and as a standalone treatment for prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
The OB-GYN specialists at Women’s HealthFirst have the knowledge and experience that matters if you’re in need of a pessary fitting or other treatment options for pelvic organ prolapse. Getting the comprehensive women’s healthcare you need begins by calling Women’s HealthFirst in northwest suburban Chicago at (847) 808-8884. You can also request an appointment now.
We look forward to seeing you at one of our five convenient locations near Chicago, Illinois.