Ring pessaries

Key points about ring pessaries

  • A ring pessary is a small plastic or silicon support placed inside your vagina to help lift the vaginal wall and support a prolapsed uterus.
  • It needs to be inserted by a trained health practitioner and checked every 6–12 months, depending on the type. 
  • This page provides information about ring pessaries and when they are an option in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse.
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A pessary is a small silicone or plastic support that is inserted into your vagina. It helps to lift up the walls of your vagina and any prolapse of your womb (uterus).

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. It is left in place in your vagina. Pessaries don’t fix prolapses but they can reduce or lessen the symptoms of prolapse and help you live more comfortably. 

Vaginal pessaries are easily inserted but must be inserted by a trained and experienced health professional – your GP or a gynaecologist (a doctor specialising in the female reproductive system). They need to be checked every 6–12 months, depending on the type. If you have pain or difficulty passing urine (peeing) after you have a vaginal pessary inserted, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible as the pessary may need to be changed for a different size.
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.

It can be an option for women who do not wish to have surgery. This includes if you are:

  • still of childbearing age
  • waiting for surgery
  • have other illnesses that may make surgery riskier
  • only have symptoms some of the time, eg, when exercising. 

Vaginal pessaries do not usually cause any problems, but may affect the sensitive skin inside your vagina which can be painful. Some women notice some discomfort during sex.

Other side effects include:

  • discharge from your vagina that can be smelly or discoloured (vaginal infection) – a short course of antibiotics may be needed
  • trouble peeing
  • wetting yourself
  • difficulty or pain with bowel motions (passing poo/tūtae)
  • the pessary becoming attached to the surrounding tissue – an operation is needed to remove it. 

 If you experience any of the things listed below, don’t wait for a follow-up appointment, but talk to your doctor or nurse. 

  • If you are uncomfortable and things don’t seem ‘right’.
  • If your ring pessary falls out (bring it back in for resizing).
  • If your bladder or bowel control gets worse. 
  • If you have a smelly or discoloured discharge from your vagina. 
  • If you have vaginal bleeding.  

Vaginal pessary(external link) Family Doctor, American Academy of Family Physicians

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