INTRODUCTION AND HYPOTHESIS: The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of routine follow-up visits for pessary cleaning, the effect of extended time intervals between visits and the proportion of patients being able to self-manage their pessary for pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study in patients with a stage ≥II POP without previous POP surgery. All patients received a pessary as primary treatment. Our main outcome measure was a difference ≥2 in median visual analogue scale (VAS) scores (for pain, discharge, irritation) 1 week before and 1 week after cleaning. Measurements were performed after 3- and 9-month cleaning intervals. For the evaluation of the effect of cleaning, 132 patients (3 months' follow-up) and 87 patients (12 months' follow-up) were available for analysis. For the evaluation of the effect of the lengthening interval, 123 patients were available.
RESULTS: Self-management was performed in 45.2% of patients at 1 year. In 93.1% of patients, no differences were observed in pre-and post-cleaning VAS scores (effect of cleaning) on vaginal pain. Nor was there a difference in discharge (72.4%) or irritation 85.1% (p = 0.00). No differences were observed in pre-cleaning VAS scores for vaginal pain, discharge and irritation when the interval was lengthened from 3 to 9 months. No serious adverse events occurred.
CONCLUSIONS: There is no proven benefit of regular follow-up visits to clean a pessary. Also, the length of the cleaning interval does not seem to matter.