International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1017–1024

Vaginal pessaries for pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence: a multiprofessional survey of practice

Original Article


Introduction and hypothesis

Vaginal pessaries may offer symptomatic improvement for women with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or urinary incontinence (UI). This study aimed to investigate multidisciplinary perspectives on vaginal pessary use in clinical practice and to understand the service organisation of vaginal pessary care for women with these conditions.


A pretested, anonymous survey was e-mailed to members of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Association for Continence Advice and the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health in the UK.


A total of 678 respondents, from medical, nursing and physiotherapy professions, consented to survey participation and provided useable data (response rate 20.7 %). Doctors were significantly more likely to report involvement in pessary care than nurses or physiotherapists. Respondents were optimistic about the success of pessary treatment; however, a lower proportion reported using pessaries for UI than for prolapse. The majority of respondents used ring pessaries and shelf pessaries, most recipients were older women, and commonly an indication for fitting a pessary was that the woman was unfit for surgery. More than 15 % of respondents providing pessary care had not received training. Follow-up services for women with pessaries varied considerably.


The variation in pessary care delivery and organisation requires further study in order to maximise efficiency and effectiveness. The development of nurse- or physiotherapist-led models of care may be appropriate, but the effectiveness of such models requires testing. Furthermore, to potentially improve outcomes of pessary care, a greater understanding of the availability, content and process of training may be warranted.


Incontinence Pessary Prolapse Service delivery Survey Multidisciplinary 

Supplementary material

192_2012_1985_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (292 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 291 kb)


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Copyright information

© The International Urogynecological Association 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing, Midwifery and HealthUniversity of StirlingScotlandUK
  2. 2.NMAHP Research UnitGlasgow Caledonian UniversityGlasgowUK
  3. 3.Croydon University HospitalCroydonUK

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