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Pessary: Care Instructions

Gellhorn and doughnut pessaries, and an inserted doughnut pessary


A pessary is a device that fits into your vagina and supports the pelvic organs. It may be used if a pelvic organ sags or moves out of its normal position (prolapse). For some women, wearing a pessary means that they may not need to have surgery to fix a prolapse. A pessary also may help a woman who has trouble controlling her urine (incontinence). Or it may be used during a pregnancy to hold the uterus in place.

There are many sizes and types of pessaries. Which type you use depends on the problem you have. Your doctor will make sure the pessary is just right for you. You may need to try different kinds to find the best fit. The pessary should hold the pelvic organ in place without causing pain or pressure. You may be able to have sex with your pessary in place. It depends on the type of pessary and your comfort level.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If you get a vaginal discharge while you have a pessary, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce the discharge and smell. A pessary, in some cases, rubs the vagina and may cause irritation and discharge. If your vagina feels sore, talk to your doctor about a cream or gel to protect the vagina.
  • Follow your doctor's advice on how long you can wear your pessary before it needs to be cleaned. You may be able to remove and clean it yourself, or your doctor may want to do this during an office visit.
  • If you clean your pessary, wash it with mild soap and water. Follow your doctor's advice on inserting the pessary.
  • Do not douche or use a vaginal wash unless your doctor tells you to do so.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can cause a cough, which makes a prolapse worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

To help support your pelvic organs

  • Avoid activities that put pressure on your pelvic muscles, such as heavy lifting.
  • Do pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises, which tighten and strengthen pelvic muscles. To do Kegel exercises:
    • Squeeze the same muscles you would use to stop your urine. Your belly and thighs should not move.
    • Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, then relax for 3 seconds.
    • Start with 3 seconds. Then add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds.
    • Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times for each session. Do three or more sessions each day.
  • To ease pressure on your vagina, lie down and put a pillow under your knees. You also can lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
  • You have new or worse belly or pelvic pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have problems with the pessary, such as vaginal pain, vaginal bleeding, or problems with urination or bowel movements.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.