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Basic Facts about Pessaries

A vaginal pessary is a simple device that is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs in order to treat prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence. These devices are fit by a health care professional after careful vaginal exam. Pessaries come in many shapes, sizes and materials. You will be unaware of a properly fit pessary. Pessaries should not cause pain or discomfort. You should be able to perform your usual daily activities without problems.

How does a pessary work?
A pessary provides support to the urethra, bladder, uterus, rectum and/or vagina.

What are the benefits of using a pessary?
A pessary is a simple, non-surgical solution to pelvic organ prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence. It is a conservative therapy that can be used prior to, or in place of surgical procedures to manage these conditions.

What type of follow-up care is required?
Initially you will be asked to come back to the office for a couple visits to check the fit of the pessary. Once an appropriate pessary is identified, your follow-up will depend upon your ability to manage the pessary independently.

How do I take care of my pessary?
Some pessaries can be removed, cleaned and replaced at home without the need for visits to the office for “pessary care.” If you are able to remove the pessary on your own, you should do so at least once a week, leaving the pessary out of the vagina overnight. This allows for “vaginal rest.” When washing your pessary, just use plain water and allow the pessary to air dry.

What if I need medical testing?
Some pessaries have metal components and should be removed before you have an X-ray or MRI. Your pessary may be left in place for other testing, such as ultrasound, and would only need to be removed if a transvaginal ultrasound is needed.

Can I be sexually active while using a pessary?
Some pessaries can remain in place during sexual intercourse, others cannot. Please inform your health care provider if you are sexually active so you can be fitted with an appropriate pessary. A pessary is NOT a contraceptive device. If you are sexually active and still fertile, you will need to use contraception to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

What type of problems should prompt a call your office?
Call the office to report any of the following problems:

  • Vaginal pain or discomfort
  • The pessary becomes dislodged or falls out
  • Any change in the color, amount or odor of your vaginal discharge
  • Problems urinating or moving the bowel

For more information about the urogynecology services offered at Virginia Mason in Seattle, contact Dr. Washington’s office by calling (206) 223-6191.