The history and evolution of pessaries for pelvic organ prolapse

Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2006 Feb;17(2):170-5. doi: 10.1007/s00192-005-1313-6. Epub 2005 Apr 14.


The use of pessaries for the treatment of genital prolapse dates back prior to the days of Hippocrates and their use has been documented in early Egyptian papyruses. Throughout the centuries remedies such as honey, hot oil, wine and fumes have been used as treatment. Mechanical methods included succussion and leg binding. Pomegranates were also common remedies. In the middle ages, linen and cotton wool soaked in many different potions were used. As new materials were discovered, pessaries evolved and began to resemble those used today. Cork and brass were soon replaced with rubber. Modern day pessaries are made of non-reactive silicone and come in various designs and sizes to suit each individual. Pessaries can be used as an interim measure for women who wish to complete childbearing or women awaiting surgery. It can also be used as a permanent measure for women who are unsuitable for surgery. It remains to be established whether the use of modern pessaries over prolonged periods of time can prevent progression of or even cure, prolapse.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Pessaries / history*
  • Prolapse
  • Uterine Prolapse / history
  • Uterine Prolapse / therapy