Effect of vaginal estrogen on pessary use

Int Urogynecol J. 2016 Sep;27(9):1423-9. doi: 10.1007/s00192-016-3000-1. Epub 2016 Mar 18.


Introduction and hypothesis: Many providers recommend concurrent estrogen therapy with pessary use to limit complications; however, limited data exist to support this practice. We hypothesized that vaginal estrogen supplementation decreases incidence of pessary-related complications and discontinuation.

Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of women who underwent a pessary fitting from 1 January 2007 through 1 September 2013 at one institution; participants were identified by billing code and were eligible if they were postmenopausal and had at least 3 months of pessary use and 6 months of follow-up. All tests were two sided, and P values < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.

Results: Data from 199 women were included; 134 used vaginal estrogen and 65 did not. Women who used vaginal estrogen had a longer median follow-up time (29.5 months) compared with women who did not (15.4 months) and were more likely to have at least one pessary check (98.5 % vs 86.2 %, P < 0.001). Those in the estrogen group were less likely to discontinue using their pessary (30.6 % vs 58.5 %, P < 0.001) and less likely to develop increased vaginal discharge than women who did not [hazard ratio (HR) 0.31, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.17-0.58]. Vaginal estrogen was not protective against erosions (HR 0.93, 95 % CI 0.54-1.6) or vaginal bleeding (HR 0.78, 95 % CI 0.36-1.7).

Conclusions: Women who used vaginal estrogen exhibited a higher incidence of continued pessary use and lower incidence of increased vaginal discharge than women who did not.

Keywords: Pessary; Prolapse; Vaginal estrogen.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Estrogens / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse / therapy*
  • Pessaries / adverse effects*
  • Postmenopause
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / prevention & control
  • Vaginal Discharge / etiology
  • Vaginal Discharge / prevention & control


  • Estrogens