Vaginal Support Device - Insertion

This is the insertion of a small device, called a pessary, into the vagina. A pessary provides support for the uterus and bladder.

This is the insertion of a small device, called a pessary, into the vagina. A pessary provides support for the uterus and bladder.

Pelvic organ prolapse is when a pelvic organ, such as uterus or bladder, slips out of place and drops into or out of the vagina. This can happen when the muscles that hold the pelvic organs get weak. A pessary is a small, removable device that is inserted into the vagina. It helps improve symptoms related to prolapse by providing support for the organs that have dropped down (prolapsed). There are many types of pessaries, but they break down into two categories.

  • Support pessary, such as a ring pessary. This ring pessary is the most commonly used. It is comfortable, can be removed and reinserted by most women, and can be left in during intercourse.
  • Space filling pessary, such as the Gellhorn. These pessaries have a broad base, which supports the vagina. However, they are difficult for a woman to remove and cannot be left in during intercourse.

There are also pessaries specifically made to treat urinary incontinence (loss of control over urination).

The insertion of a pessary may be uncomfortable, but it is generally not painful. Before fitting you for a pessary, your healthcare provider will review your medical history and do a pelvic exam. A urine analysis may also be done.

  • You will need to lie on your back with your feet in stirrups. This is similar to the position you are in when having a pap smear or pelvic (internal) exam.
  • A pessary is inserted through the vagina. In most cases, the pessary is folded before being inserted. It will open up once inside the vagina.
  • After insertion your healthcare provider may ask you to strain, cough, urinate and walk around the office. This is done to make sure the pessary stays in place.
  • A follow-up visit is recommended about one or two weeks after insertion. The pessary will be removed, cleaned and reinserted. Your vagina will also be examined for any problems. Vaginal creams may be advised to help with any irritations in your vagina.
  • If you are able to remove your pessary, your healthcare provider will give you instructions on how to clean and care for it at home. If you are uncomfortable with removing your pessary, you will need to return to the office periodically to have it removed and cleaned.

Some women can be fitted with a pessary on their first office visit. However, it is not uncommon for several pessaries to be tried before finding the best fit.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your treatment options. If you decide to have a pessary inserted, ask your healthcare provider the following questions.

  • What are the benefits and risks of the two types of pessaries?
  • Is one type of pessary a better option over the other for me? Why or why not?
  • What symptoms are normal after a pessary is inserted? When should I be concerned?
  • How long after insertion should I see you?
  • Should I remove the pessary? If yes, get clear instructions on how to remove, clean and reinsert the pessary.


Also known as:

Vaginal Support Device - Insertion
Insertion of Pessary
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