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  • Writer's pictureBally Lidder

How is a pessary like a sports bra?

You wouldn’t exercise without a sports bra- what can pessaries do for your movement?

What is a pessary and how does it work?

A vaginal pessary is a device used to hold a prolapsed womb and/or vaginal walls in place after pelvic organ prolapse. They are an alternative to surgical options or can be used while awaiting surgery. Vaginal pessaries can be greatly effective in treating the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse or urinary leakage and can be suitable if you haven’t finished your family or if surgery isn’t a viable option for you. You can find out more about pelvic organ prolapse in our previous blog.

Fitted and securely placed in the vagina, it acts as a support for the prolapsed organ. When we run or engage in high impact exercise, our connective tissue can stretch, distort or lengthen. As a sports bra helps support the breast tissue when exercising, so a pessary would support the vaginal walls, allowing you to exercise without a feeling of heaviness or urinary leakage.

How is it fitted?

Pessary fitting is trial and error and the first one may not always be the right fit. Like trying on a bra, sometimes they just don’t sit right. Before a pessary fitting appointment, you’ll be asked to try a disposable pessary, which will give an indication as to its effectiveness in managing symptoms, sizing suitability and ease of insertion/removal. There are many types of pessary and the one that’s right for you depends on size and the strength and integrity of your pelvic floor muscles.

Image from Milex Pessaries

When fitted for a reusable silicone pessary, we’ll ask you to stand up, cough, and squat. Then we ask you to empty your bladder and go for a walk. You should not be able to feel it and it should not fall out.

Sometimes the shape or size may need to be changed as if the pessary is too large there is a risk of rubbing and if too small it may fall out or be displaced. You will need to be able to self- manage your pessary, so you’ll be shown how to remove and re-insert it. How often it needs to be removed and cleaned depends on the type of pessary you are given.

What are the risks/ side effects?

- Increased discharge that may have an unpleasant odour

- Pain or discomfort

- Vaginal bleeding

It is important to continue with pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle management whilst using a pessary as this is when it will be most effective in helping you get back to your normal lifestyle and former levels of exercise. If you would like to discuss how pessaries may be helpful for you or book a fitting please do get in touch.

You can find your local pelvic floor physiotherapist via the Squeezy app, Mummy MOT, or the POGP (Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy).

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