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A pessary is a medical device inserted into the vagina, either to provide structural support, or as a method of delivering medication.[1]

An assortment of pessaries

Types of pessaries[edit]

Different types of pessaries

Therapeutic pessaries[edit]

A therapeutic pessary is a medical device similar to the outer ring of a diaphragm. Therapeutic pessaries are used to support the uterus, vagina, bladder, or rectum. Pessaries are a treatment option for pelvic organ prolapse.[2] A pessary is most commonly used to treat prolapse of the uterus. It is also used to treat stress urinary incontinence, a retroverted uterus, cystocele and rectocele. Historically, pessaries may have been used to perform abortions.

The pessary can be placed temporarily or permanently, and must be fitted by a physician, physician assistant, midwife, or advanced practice nurse. Some pessaries can be worn during intercourse.

Pharmaceutical pessaries[edit]

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.

Occlusive pessaries[edit]

Main article: Cervical cap
See also: womb veil

An occlusive pessary is generally used in combination with spermicide as a contraceptive.

Stem pessary[edit]

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.[3]

General side effects[edit]

Side effects that are shared among most different types of pessaries are risks of increased vaginal discharge, vaginal irritation, ulceration, bleeding, and dyspareunia (painful intercourse for the male or female).

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ American Urogynecologic Society (May 5, 2015), "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question", Choosing Wisely: an initiative of the ABIM Foundation (American Urogynecologic Society), retrieved June 1, 2015 , which cites: * Culligan, PJ (April 2012). "Nonsurgical management of pelvic organ prolapse.". Obstetrics and gynecology 119 (4): 852–60. PMID 22433350. 
      • ACOG Committee on Practice, Bulletins--Gynecology (September 2007). "ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 85: Pelvic organ prolapse.". Obstetrics and gynecology 110 (3): 717–29. PMID 17766624. .
  3. ^ Contraceptive Stem Pessary in Aluminium