Vaginal Dryness and Pessaries for Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse, a type of pelvic floor disorder, can affect many women. In fact, up to 50% of all women are affected by prolapse or similar conditions over their lifetime.
What Is a Pelvic Floor Disorder?
The "pelvic floor" is a group of muscles that form a kind of hammock across your pelvic opening. Normally, these muscles and the tissues surrounding them keep the pelvic organs in place. These organs include your bladder, uterus, vagina, small bowel, and rectum.
Sometimes, these muscles and tissue develop problems. Some women develop pelvic floor disorders following childbirth. And as women age, pelvic organ prolapse and other pelvic floor disorders become more common.
When pelvic floor disorders develop, one or more of the pelvic organs may stop working properly. Conditions associated with pelvic floor disorders include:
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Urinary incontinence
- Anal incontinence
What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
"Prolapse" refers to a descending or drooping of organs. Pelvic organ prolapse refers to the prolapse or drooping of any of the pelvic floor organs, including:
- Small bowel
How Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse Treated?
Treatment of pelvic organ prolapse depends on how severe the symptoms are. Treatment can include a variety of therapies, including:
- Behavioral treatments, such as doing Kegel exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
- Mechanical treatments, such as inserting a small plastic device called a pessary into the vagina to provide support for the drooping organs
- Surgical treatment, either to repair the affected tissue or organ or to remove the organ (such as removal of the uterus by hysterectomy)
What is a Pessary?
A pessary is a device used to help control urinary leakage, or to support sagging or prolapsing pelvic organs such as your bladder, uterus, or rectum. They are made of silicone and are worn inside the vagina. They come in different styles/ sizes and are an effective option for pelvic organ prolapse and/or urinary incontinence.
With vaginal atrophy and pelvic organ prolapse, sometimes it is too painful to insert a pessary. In this case, your physician will likely recommend a vaginal moisturizer and direct you to use it for 4-6 weeks before trialing the insertion of a pessary again. The vaginal moisturizer can also be used to facilitate the actual insertion and cleaning of the pessary itself.
It is a good idea to take out your pessary at least once a week, for washing with mild soap and warm water. To prevent infections and odours, a vaginal moisturizer that is acidic in nature (Gynatrof) must be applied vaginally 2 or 3 times weekly. All patients wearing pessaries should be examined by health care professionals every 3 to 6 months to check for vaginal erosions or ulcers.
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