A pharmaceutical pessary is used as a very effective means of delivery of pharmaceutical substances easily absorbed through the skin of the vagina or rectum, or intended to have action in the locality, for example against inflammation or infection, or on the uterus. Pessaries were used as birth control in ancient times. There are biblical references to pessaries filled with myrrh, used as contraceptive.
The stem pessary, a type of occlusive pessary, was an early form of the cervical cap. Shaped like a dome, it covered the cervix, and a central rod or "stem" entered the uterus through the os, to hold it in place.