Does vaginal estrogen treatment with support pessaries in vaginal prolapse reduce complications?

Supriya Bulchandani, Philip Toozs-Hobson, Tina Verghese, Pallavi Latthe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Pelvic organ prolapse is often co-existant with atrophy of the genital tract in older women who tend to prefer vaginal pessaries for prolapse. Vaginal estrogen therapy is used by some along with a support pessary for prolapse with no robust evidence to back this practice. We aimed to evaluate differences in complications of support pessaries for vaginal prolapse in postmenopausal women, with and without vaginal estrogen use.

STUDY DESIGN: We prospectively assessed postmenopausal women attending the urogynaecology clinic for a pessary change. We asked them about the level of discomfort during pessary change (visual analogue scale for pain), discharge, bleeding and infection. Ethics approval was not required as this was a service evaluation project. Statistical analysis for relative risk was performed, including sub-group analysis for 'ring pessary' and 'non-ring group' (Shelf, Gellhorn, Shaatz).

RESULTS: Between July 2013 and December 2014, we assessed 120 postmenopausal women using support pessaries for prolapse. The mean age was 70 years; 45% of the patients used vaginal estrogen. There were no statistically significant differences in complications with or without vaginal estrogen use, although the trend was higher amongst non-users. The 'non-ring' sub-group not using vaginal estrogen had a higher risk of vaginal ulceration, bleeding and discharge.

CONCLUSION: Postmenopausal women may have lesser complications when using vaginal estrogen with a support pessary for prolapse, particularly with pessaries other than the ring. An adequately powered randomised controlled trial is needed to assess conclusively whether vaginal estrogen enhances comfort and reduces complications of support pessaries for prolapse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-5
Number of pages5
JournalPost Reproductive Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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