More about pessaries

Pessaries don’t fix prolapses but they can reduce or lessen the symptoms of prolapse and help you live more comfortably. 

You may consider using a pessary or your doctor may recommend it if you:

  • are pregnant
  • have just had a baby
  • are waiting to have prolapse surgery
  • have health problems which would make prolapse surgery unsafe for you.

How is a pessary put in place? 

Special nurses, doctors and physiotherapists can put a pessary in place. You won’t need an anaesthetic because it’s usually not too uncomfortable.

Because pessaries come in a number of sizes and shapes, you may need to try a few before you find one that is comfortable and provides the right support. 

What’s it like having a pessary? 

If you have a pessary that is the right size and in the right position, you won’t be able to feel it and you’ll be able to do all your normal activities. It’s also okay to have sex with a pessary and your partner should not be able to feel it. 

A pessary that is the wrong size can fall out but it cannot end up anywhere else in your body.

How long can I use a pessary for?

Pessaries are a safe long-term treatment for prolapse but they do need to be changed every three to six months. Some women will be able to do this at home themselves but others will need to go to a hospital or a clinic to have this done for them. 

What are the benefits of using a pessary?

The benefits of using a pessary are that it:

  • can reduce or lessen the symptoms of vaginal prolapse
  • does not stop you from being able to have sex
  • is less invasive (and as a result, less complicated) than surgery.

What are the possible problems of using a pessary?

You may have some or all of these side effects – or you may have none of them. 

Potential side effects How often does it happen?
Discharge that can be smelly, coloured or bloody Uncommon  Around 4 in 100 women
Irritation and discomfort Common Around 13 in 100 women
Trouble passing urine or wetting yourself Uncommon Around 1 in 100 women
Difficulty or pain with bowel motions Uncommon Around 1 in 100 women
The pessary becomes attached to the surrounding tissue and an operation is needed to remove it Uncommon Around 2 in 100 women

Most of these side effects are small complications. They can be successfully managed with topical oestrogen creams or by removing the pessary for a while to give your body a ‘break’. By taking your pessary out overnight at least once a week, you can also successfully prevent it from becoming attached to the surrounding tissue.


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