Your body contains 79 organs — have you ever wondered how they all stay put? Thanks to your muscles, each of your organs has its place in your body. That is, until something goes wrong.
As with any part of your body, your muscles can break down and lose their grip on your organs, and that’s where organ-supportive devices come in.
Here, our experienced team of gynecologists at The Center for Women’s Health in Newport News and Hampton, Virginia, give you an inside look into organ-supportive devices and how they can help you.
What is an organ-supportive device, and who needs one?
As the name suggests, an organ-supportive device is a medical appliance that’s either removable or implanted surgically to address prolapsed organs.
Prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues that support your organs become too weak or loose to hold them in place. As a result, your organs drop or, in severe cases, bulge or extend outside your body.
Prolapse is most common in a woman’s pelvic floor, called pelvic organ prolapse (POP). The muscles in your pelvic floor act like a sling for your bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum. Weak or damaged muscles allow these organs to shift out of place, fall outside your vagina, and cause other frustrating problems like urinary and fecal incontinence.
POP can occur as a result of:
- Vaginal childbirth, especially multiple vaginal deliveries
- The natural progression of aging
- Being overweight
- Chronic constipation
Some even believe genetics play a role and that you’re more likely to develop POP if someone in your family has it.
What type of organ-supportive device addresses POP?
If you have POP, we can recommend an organ-supportive device called a pessary. Pessaries help your weakened muscles stabilize and support your organs.
There are a few different types of pessaries, and they come in various shapes and sizes, but most pessaries are made of a soft, nonabsorbent material like silicone. Some pessaries are easy to remove and insert on your own, and others require the help of one of our team members.
Depending on your needs, we recommend a specific type of pessary. The most common types include:
- Ring pessary
- Gehrung pessary
- Mar-land pessary
- Gellhorn pessary
- Donut pessary
- Cube pessary
Each type of pessary serves a different purpose, so we evaluate your condition thoroughly before making a recommendation.
I have a pessary — now what?
We fit your pessary to your body’s exact specifications, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it being too small and falling out or too large and uncomfortable. With typical use, a pessary can last for years.
If your pessary is removable, you can take it out for weekly or even daily cleanings. We recommend you see us every six months for a checkup to ensure it’s still working properly.
If you can’t remove your pessary, we recommend checkups every 2-3 months so we can remove and clean it for you.
Pessaries are safe and effective and shouldn’t cause any side effects if they fit properly. Pink or bloody discharge could be a sign that it’s rubbing against the wall of your vagina. In that case, we remove your pessary, allow your body to heal, and then refit you with a new device.
Feel free to engage in intercourse if you have a pessary, but remember to remove it if you have the donut, cube, or Gellhorn type.
Have more questions about organ-supportive devices? We’d love to talk with you. Contact us by calling your preferred location or requesting an appointment online today.