Defecatory dysfunction and other clinical variables are predictors of pessary discontinuation

  • Erin G. Dengler
  • Louisa A. Mounsey
  • Francesca Gines
  • Manahil Agha
  • Terri Long
  • Elizabeth J. GellerEmail author
Original Article


Introduction and hypothesis

Pessaries provide first-line therapy for women with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). The primary hypothesis was that defecatory dysfunction was associated with pessary discontinuation.


This was a retrospective cohort study of all women undergoing first pessary placement at one academic center from April 2014 to January 2017. Defecatory dysfunction was defined as the presence of constipation, rectal straining, rectal splinting, and/or incomplete defecation. Pessary discontinuation was defined as <1 year of pessary use and not using one at the most recent visit. Descriptive statistics; Person’s chi-square, Fisher’s exact, and Student’s t test, and multivariate logistic regression analysis were used where appropriate.


Charts of 1092 women were reviewed and 1071 were included. Mean age was 62 ± 15 years, mean body mass index (BMI) 28 ± 6 kg/m2, and mean parity 2 ± 1; 68% were Caucasian, 73% were menopausal, and 41% were sexually active. Reason for pessary use included POP (46%), SUI (24%), or both (30%). Overall pessary discontinuation rate was 77%; overall rate of defecatory dysfunction was 45%. In a logistic regression model, defecatory dysfunction in the form of incomplete defecation remained significantly associated with pessary discontinuation [odds ratio (OR) 3.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.43–7.52]. Absence of bulge symptoms (OR 2.18, 95% CI 1.22–3.90), and younger age (OR 1.02, 95% CI 1.02–1.05) also remained significantly associated with pessary discontinuation.


Pessary discontinuation was common, and defecatory dysfunction in the form of incomplete defecation had the strongest association with discontinuation. Understanding predictive factors of pessary discontinuation may help guide clinicians and patients when choosing treatment options for pelvic floor dysfunction.


Defecatory dysfunction Pessary Pessary discontinuation Predictors 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© The International Urogynecological Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of MedicineUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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