Women have been suffering from light bladder leaks for thousands of years. The changes that the female body goes through such as childbirth or menopause or a traumatic event that damages muscles and nerves like surgery can cause what is known as Stress Urinary Incontinence or SUI. SUI is a condition in which the pelvic floor muscles that help regulate and control the flow of urine are weakened or damaged for various reasons, triggering involuntary leaks whenever pressure is placed on the bladder, urinary tract, or abdomen. The pressure that can trigger leaks can be minimal. Laughing too hard or sneezing can turn into a leak for many women. Although many probably don’t admit or discuss their bladder leaks, SUI is common with around 1 in 4 adult women in the US experiencing leaks.
But urinary incontinence is not a new human experience. Women and men have been working and searching for solutions to improve quality of life, everyday comfort, and to simply reduce leaks for a long time. One of the solutions that has been developed is by using a device called a pessary.
What is a Pessary?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a pessary is defined as “a device that fits into the vagina and provides support to vaginal tissues displaced by pelvic organ prolapse.” Pelvic Organ Prolapse or POP can be described as a disorder in which one or more of the pelvic organs drop from their normal position. Just like SUI, POP can develop after childbirth, surgery, or trauma that causes damage to the pelvic floor and surrounding tissue. There can be different sizes and purposes of pessaries that may be used. These include:
Ring – The most basic and common pessary shape. Can be easily inserted and removed without healthcare supervision.
Gehrung – This U-shape pessary is molded to fit the user to help handle more advanced stages of prolapse.
Gellhorn – A disk shape with a small knob in the center used for advanced cases of prolapse.
Cube – This pessary is used for advanced-stage prolapse. It’s compacted down and inserted into the vagina where it uses suction to support the areas affected by prolapse.
Talking with your doctor or healthcare provider about the severity and frequency of symptoms will help them make the right choice for your body and lifestyle.
A Brief History
As mentioned before, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence is nothing new for women to experience. Thus, solutions to help reduce leaks or support prolapsed organs, have been created and tried throughout history. In fact, records indicate pessary use goes back as far as ancient Egyptian and Roman cultures, although the devices described were a far cry from our modern version. Hippocrates, for example, had mentioned the use of half a pomegranate in the vaginal opening to support prolapsed organs. In the ruins of Pompeii, a bronze pessary has been discovered, evidence further supporting early culture use. As humans evolved and science and information spread, the pomegranate or crudely made pessary evolved into a sponge tightly rolled and bound with string, dipped in wax, and covered with oil or butter. This form comes from Germany around the year 1559. Abrose Pare developed different shapes of pessaries – oval, pear-shaped, and ring for different uses. To make this device, hammered brass and waxed cork were used. To keep the device in place, a belt was worn around the waist. Another version of the support device was created in 1663 with the advent of “modern gynecology” as cited in the book Heelkonstige Aanmerkkingen Betreffende de Grebrecken der Vrouwen. , often referred to as the first textbook on operative gynecology. Pessaries were described as being made out of wax or cork dipped in wax. With the discovery of the vulcanization of rubber, pessaries evolved beyond organic materials that could cause harm internally. Eventually, in the 1950s hard rubber was replaced with polystyrene plastics. Nowadays, modern pessary devices are made with silicone for safety and comfort. The evolution and development of science, medicine, and gynecology have given us the safe, effective, and comfortable version of the pessary that we know today.
Why change what works? Women have been using pessaries (or fruits acting as such) to support their pelvic floor internally and help prolapse and incontinence problems for generations. With Revive™, a modern twist is put on the archaic support device. Made out of soft, flexible silicone, Revive is one size to support the bladder and reduce leaks. The unique shape takes the original pessary design to the next level, made to fit the female anatomy safely and comfortably. The pessary can be worn for up to 12 hours a day, ensuring that users have all-day protection. Because Revive is reusable, you are saving money and reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills. It’s easy to insert, remove, clean, and store. Available over-the-counter at retailers nationwide wherever sanitary products are found.