• Emily Reul, PT, DPT

Pessaries

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Hello friends! Have you ever heard of a pessary? Today we’re going to discuss what a pessary is and why you might benefit from one.


WHAT IS A PESSARY?

Pessaries are used to help with pelvic organ prolapse symptoms. They can be used to help prolapse from progressing to a more severe stage or may even be able to prevent prolapse for those at high risk of developing it. (Bo, 2015) It is a device (typically made of silicone) that is inserted into the vaginal canal to provide internal support to the walls of the vagina. (Bo, 2015) Pessaries have been used since ancient times, and they used to be made of materials like pomegranates or wool—thankfully technology has advanced since then! (Bo, 2015)


WHAT IS PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE?


Pelvic Organ prolapse is the descent of the bladder, cervix, or rectum into the vaginal canal due to insufficient support. To learn more about pelvic organ prolapse, visit our full blog post.




HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE?

Your provider may have diagnosed you with pelvic organ prolapse after an internal examination. Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse are often heaviness “down there” or you may even feel a bulge in the vagina. Watch this video from Jeanice to learn how to check for pelvic organ prolapse. If you think you may have it, talk with your provider.


HOW DOES A PESSARY WORK?

Once the pessary is inserted into the vagina, it can alleviate those symptoms like heaviness and vaginal bulging by providing physical support to the vaginal walls to stop the pelvic organs from falling. Pessaries are an alternative option for women who cannot or do not want to have surgery for pelvic organ prolapse. (Bo, 2015) Pessaries are designed to be lightweight to avoid straining the pelvic floor muscles with frequent use. Some objects like “jade eggs” or “yoni eggs” are similar to a pessary but they are weighted and can cause pelvic pain and spasm in the pelvic floor muscles if worn for long periods of time.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A PESSARY?

One study found 60% of women after 3 months of pessary use reported improvements in bowel, bladder, and prolapse symptoms. (Cundiff, 2007) A pessary may help to prevent further progression of prolapse . They can be used as a preventative measure in high risk women such as those with chronic lung disease or with jobs that require heavy, repetitive lifting to prevent them from developing pelvic organ prolapse. (Bo, 2015) A pessary may even help to change structure of the vagina by slightly decreasing the size of the vaginal canal. (Bo, 2015)


WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS TO USIGN A PESSARY?

Pessaries require regular check-up visits with your provider. If not properly cared for, pessaries can cause infection, vaginal bleeding, cervical incarceration, or become embedded in the vaginal canal. (Bo, 2015) These side effects are most likely to occur in pessaries that are neglected and not changed regularly. (Bo, 2015)