What is a Pessary?

A pessary is a device that is inserted into the vagina to relieve symptoms associated with mild to moderate pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which the womb, bladder, or rectum bulges into the vaginal canal. This device is made of either rubber or plastic and is a safe, nonsurgical way to provide support for prolapsed organs.

Pessaries come in different shapes and sizes, and finding the right one can take some trial and error. Before a pessary fitting, you will be examined and evaluated based on prolapse-related symptoms you may be experiencing, which may include discomfort, urine leakage when sneezing or coughing, and trouble keeping tampons in.

The following tips can help guide the process of finding the right fit:

  • Once in place, you should not be able to feel the device at all. If there is even slight pressure, you should let your healthcare provider know, and she will find a pessary of a different size or shape.
  • The pessary should not fall out with sneezing, coughing, jumping, or squatting. While getting fitted, you should try jumping or squatting to see if the device will fall out. If it does, a different pessary will be inserted until you find one that stays in place.
  • You and your healthcare provider should make sure the device is improving your symptoms by having a check-up 5 to 15 days after it is inserted. If there is no improvement, you may have to be re-fitted with a different pessary, or you may be asked to consider surgical options.
The device should be kept clean to avoid issues like vaginal odor, discharge, or irritation. To clean a pessary, it must be taken out and washed with soap and water. Your healthcare provider will instruct you on how to remove and reinsert the device. If you are unable to do this on your own, you will need to get it done at the doctor's office at least once every two months.

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