The effect of pessaries on the vaginal microenvironment

Sarah Collins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective The objective of the study was to evaluate the differences in vaginal culture, microscopy, and Gram stain between postmenopausal women who wear pessaries and those who do not to explain pessary-related, bothersome vaginal discharge.

Study Design Postmenopausal women not using exogenous estrogen who had either been wearing a pessary for at least 3 months or who were undergoing their first pessary fittings were approached for enrollment. Symptoms were assessed, and vaginal fluid was collected for culture, microscopy, and Gram stain. A cross-sectional analysis was performed, comparing the new and return pessary wearers. The new pessary users were also sampled at 2 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after fitting.

Results Women who wore pessaries were more likely to be bothered by discharge (30.0% vs 2.1%, P <.001). They were also more likely to show microscopic evidence of vaginal inflammation and vaginitis. Prospective data showed that these changes developed during the first 2 weeks of pessary use. Aerobic and anaerobic organisms were nearly identical in women with and without bothersome vaginal discharge in the cross-sectional analysis and at all time points in the prospective analysis.

Conclusion Pessary-related, bothersome vaginal discharge develops early and may be due to an inflammatory process in the vagina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60.e1-60.e6
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • pelvic organ prolapse
  • pessary
  • vaginal culture
  • vaginal discharge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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