Mechanical treatments

Pessaries and catheters can help those suffering from incontinence symptoms.

Who is it for?

mechanical treatments

What does it involve?

Pessaries help to keep a fallen (or prolapsed) pelvic organ in place, and some can also help with urge/and or stress incontinence. The device has a rubber-like feel, and is placed into the vagina to support the bladder and uterus. There are different sizes and shapes available, and they don’t have to be taken out when you visit the bathroom. However, it is important to remove your pessary on a regular basis to clean it, and to visit your healthcare professional for regular vaginal check-ups.

Catheters are soft tubes that are used to drain the bladder. The tube is inserted into the urethra, and the end of the tube there are holes for the urine to pass through. There are different types of catheters available, depending on your need. Self-intermittent catheters are used only when you go to the bathroom, whereas ‘in-dwelling’ catheters are worn all the time, and tied to an outside bag that holds the urine.

There is less risk of bladder complications with a self-intermittent catheter, as they are disposed of after every use, or cleaned and reused after every use. For that reason, in-dwelling catheters are usually only recommended if other treatments have been unsuccessful.

How can I find out more?

Pessaries are usually fitted by a healthcare professional.

A healthcare professional will need to decide on what size and type of catheter is correct for you. You will then be taught how to use the device, normally by a specially trained nurse.


European Guidelines on Urinary Incontinence [Internet]. 2018 [cited 18 August 2020]. Available from:

Bladder Control Problems (Urinary Incontinence) [Internet]. 2018 [cited 18 August 2020]. Available from: