5 Pessary Myths--Busted!
Updated: Apr 8
Hello friends! This week we are going to bust five common myths about pessaries.
What is a pessary you ask? A pessary is a silicone medical orthotic that is designed to help with either pelvic organ prolapse and/or urinary incontinence. The pessary is inserted into the vagina to help support the prolapsed organs or the urethra to stop urinary leakage.
Here are 5 common myths:
1. It hurts to use a pessary
This is a common myth. Even some doctors tell their patients that pessaries hurt. The truth is, if a pessary is fitted correctly, it should not hurt; in fact, you shouldn’t be able to feel a pessary once it is inserted.
2. Pessaries will cause UTIs
It is true that a pessary that is not properly cared for can increase your risk of infection. When fitted for a pessary, your provider should discuss how to properly clean your pessary and tell you how often to do so. If you are expected to remove, clean, and re-insert your pessary at home, make sure you are able to do so before leaving your fitting appointment.
3. You can’t have sex with a pessary in
This one depends on the type of pessary you have inserted. Many of the common types, like the ring and the dish, are perfectly safe to have sex while the pessary is inserted.
4. I have to wear my pessary all the time
Some people are concerned that if they get a pessary, they will always have to wear it—this simply isn’t true! You can wear a pessary when you feel like you need it. Some individuals wear a pessary all the time and only remove it for cleaning while others only wear the pessary for high impact activities, like running and exercise, or for long days of walking, like going to a theme park with family. If you have been training to insert and remove your pessary, you can choose when to wear it!
5. Discharge is bad
It is true that any foul smelling discharge or colored discharge (e.g. green, yellow, brown) is often a sign of infection. However, with initial pessary use, it is common to have an increase in the natural lubrication/discharge of the vaginal canal causing increased amounts of clear discharge. Be sure to discuss any concerns about discharge with your healthcare providers.
When finding a pessary, it is important to have a fitting with a healthcare provider trained to do so. A poorly fitting pessary can cause skin breakdown and ulcerations.
In addition to a pessary, seeing a pelvic floor therapist can help treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence and help you prevent them from getting worse. Pelvic floor therapists examine and treat the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding muscle groups. Ask your doctor for a referral or find one near you at www.mypfm.com/find-a-pt.
Ready to learn more about your pelvic health? Here are some helpful resources:
Watch Netflix for Your Pelvic Floor at Pelvic Flicks
Watch our YouTube playlist Prolapse and the PFM
Learn more about the pelvic floor muscles with our book: My Pelvic Floor Muscles The Basics
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Visit our Instagram page for more on pelvic health.
Pessaries: What Pelvic Floor Therapists Need to Know with Dr. Amanda Olson, PT, DPT, PRPC
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT