The Pros and Cons of Pessary Use
What is a Pessary?
Most women have never heard of a pessary until one day, your doctor recommends it as a way to treat prolapse symptoms. A pessary is a prosthetic medical device that is inserted into the vagina in order to prevent organs from sinking down further and causing painful symptoms such as abdominal discomfort and urinary incontinence.
Pessaries are a common solution, but is it the right one? While some women are able to use pessaries with ease, others cannot due to a variety of conditions.
The Pros of Pessaries
Compared to surgery, pessaries provide a cheaper and less intensive alternative. It can be inserted by a healthcare professional and maintained by the individual.
Surgery is an option many wish to avoid, and pessaries can assist women in delaying or avoiding surgical procedures. It provides less risk for women who are physically unable to endure surgery.
There are numerous types of pessaries with different purposes, such as ring pessaries, Gehrung pessaries, and shelf pessaries. Depending on the severity and type of symptoms, there are numerous options to choose from.
Types of Pessaries
As mentioned previously, pessaries comes in different shoes and sizes. See below for the list of different pessary types and their characteristics.
Ring Pessary: The most common type and is usually the first type of pessary that women gets fitted with. Suitable for all types of prolapse.
Gehrung Pessary: Can be molded and bent to fit different bodies. It is used for cystocele, rectocele and /or uterine prolapse in mild to severe cases.
Donut Pessary: This pessary is used to occupy space for all types of prolapse in moderate to severe cases. Donut pessaries are hard to remove and needs to be taken out before having intercourse.
Cube Pessary: Also a space occupying pessary that sticks to the vaginal wall with curved edges of the device. It has a plastic loop that is attached to the device similar to a tampon string for the removal process. A cube pessary is also difficult to remove but requires daily removal for cleaning and maintenance. Suitable for all types of prolapse in moderate to severe cases.
Gellhorn Pessary: A space occupying pessary that is suitable for all types of prolapse in moderate to severe cases. A forceps is require for the removal of this pessary and it is difficult to insert and remove.
Inflatable Pessary: Available in a ball or donut shape design. It is inflated inside the body once in position using a hand held pump. Easy to Insert and remove compared to other space occupying pessaries.
Shelf Pessary: Designed with a curved stem in the middle of a kidney shaped base plate to support more advanced stages of prolapse.
The Cons of Pessaries
While pessaries do have advantages, there are many problems associated with them as well.
Varying Success Rate
Success rates depend on various factors, but a study in the International Urogynecology Journal noted that 41-74% of women were able to find relief with pessaries. In some situations, less than half of the women using pessaries were able to find comfort due to their condition. Even at the highest success rate levels, 1 in 5 women were unable to achieve relief with a pessary inside their body.
Not suitable for all women
Many women have physical conditions where a pessary cannot be inserted in the first place. Conditions like lichen scelrosus prevent women from treating their prolapse symptoms with pessaries. Women who have prolapse after a hysterectomy also find difficulty keeping the pessary inside the body.
Must be replaced frequently
As pessaries can easily become dislodged or cause internal pain, it may be necessary to repeatedly return to the doctor to have one fitted. Since pessaries are available in many shapes and sizes, some women may need to try different versions in order to find the one that best suits them.
Difficulty with sexual intercourse
Patients have noted that pessaries can cause discomfort during sexual intercourse. Some women remove them beforehand, which is inconvenient depending on the type of pessary inserted. A notable degree of self-maintenance is important in order to maintain both a pessary and a healthy sex life.
No Pessary? No Problem
For women who are not suitable for pessary use of is comfortable with having a device inserted into their body, FemiCushion provides safe and effective prolapse relief. Unlike pessaries, nothing goes inside the body. Instead, FemiCushion uses a soft and flexible silicone cushion to provide support to the prolapsed organ and hold prolapsed organs inside the body thus prevents them from bulging from the vagina. Over time as organs stay inside the body, prolapse symptoms are greatly reduced, allowing women to return to a normal and active lifestyle.
FemiCushion consist of three main components, the supporter, the holder, and the cushion. The supporter comes in different sizes and styles. Sizing is based on waist measurement. For more information, please see our sizing guide. We offer three different styles of supporter to cater to different lifestyles and preferences. Here is a supporter style guide to help you choose. On all supporters, there are horizontal and vertical straps that can be adjusted to fit different body shapes and control the level of prolapse support. The more the vertical straps are tightened, the more the device will be lifted against the body providing sturdy support. The holder is what keeps the cushion secured to the supporter. Not only does it keep the cushion in place but it also functions to absorb any liquid or discharge that is common in pelvic organ prolapse. The cloth holder is absorbent but it is made with special technology fabrics that will keep the surface layer dry for comfortable wear. The most important component is the cushion. The cushion comes in three sizes, small, medium, and large for different severity of prolapse stages and vaginal openings. It is made with a soft silicone material that is safe to use for the body. The cushion will conform to the shape of the body making it comfortable and secure.
Our site is filled with information about how FemiCushion gives women comfort and support. Start your journey today.
The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for informational purposes only.
Supervising Doctor of This Article
Koichi Nagao, MD PhD
Professor, Department of Urology, Toho University Faculty of Medicine
Director of Urinary tract reconstruction center, Toho University Omori Medical Center
Director of Reproduction Center, Toho University Omori Medical Center
Professor Nagao specializes in plastic surgery in the field of reproductive medicine. He completed eight years of plastic surgery training at Showa University before majoring in urology at Toho University. With his meticulous surgical techniques and careful examinations that combines urology and plastic surgery, Professor Nagao became a Board Certified Specialist with multiple associations including the Japanese Urological Association, the Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Japanese Society for Sexual Medicine.
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