Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can cause a woman to experience many symptoms – incontinence, a heavy feeling in the vagina, or feeling like you are sitting on a ball are all associated with POP. If you have struggled with a prolapse, have not found relief from physical therapy, and are not ready for surgery, a pessary may be a good option for you.
What is a pessary?
A pessary is a device that is inserted into the vagina to help support the organs that are usually supported by the pelvic floor (Uterus, Bladder and Rectum). A pessary can reduce the symptoms associated with POP and can sometimes even eliminate them.
How do I get a pessary?
Talk to your doctor about your options. You will need to get fitted for a pessary, a process that can take several tries in order to get the right fit. This is important, since an ill-fitting pessary can cause irritation to the vaginal wall which and create more complications. So be sure to tell your doctor if it feels uncomfortable or feels like it is placing too much pressure on the vaginal wall.
Who should use a Pessary?
Women who are experiencing mild symptoms, pregnant women or women who still wish to become pregnant, or women who wish not to have surgery are all good candidates for a pessary.
Are there any risks?
Most risks involve irritation from the pessary, which can be minimized by making sure that you get a good fit to begin with, and maintaining proper care of the pessary. These risks include sores or bleeding in the vaginal wall, wearing away of the vaginal wall, or fistulas.
What do I need to do?
Maintenance of a pessary is fairly simple – many women are able to remove and reinsert the pessary on their own, which allows for regular cleaning. For women who do not wish to do this or have trouble removing it, they may have it done regularly at their doctor’s office. You should see their doctor for follow up visits every 6 months to ensure there is no irritation or harm to the vagina from pessary use. Your doctor will also clean the pessary and check for any deformation such as cracking to ensure it is still in good working order. Replacements will be made as needed.
Who should I see?
A physical therapist specializing in women’s health, or a urologist can fit you for a pessary. To find a specialist in your area, visit the NAFC Specialist Locator.