The use of Kegel exercise devices is increasing in popularity as more women and healthcare professionals are having open conversations about personal experiences with bladder leaks, the importance of pelvic floor health, and the prevalence of urinary problems in women. These devices are a great option for women who want to address a bladder problem or just continue to maintain a healthy pelvic floor.
But how much do these pelvic floor exercise devices cost, do they really work, and which type is best for your specific needs and lifestyle? We will answer these questions and more so you can make an informed decision about the right Kegel exercise machine or device for you.
WHAT ARE KEGEL EXERCISE DEVICES?
Kegel exercises (aka Kegeling) are one of the most important things you can do to improve reproductive and urinary health. By identifying and isolating your pelvic floor muscles, then exercising these muscles through a series of contractions, you are conditioning your pelvic floor. The improved muscle tone can mean a long time between trips to the bathroom, fewer leaks, speedier recovery from childbirth, and possibly more intense orgasms.
As simple as pelvic floor exercises may sound, many women struggle to do them correctly or fail to create a consistent routine for performing the exercises daily. In recent years, Kegel exercise devices have increased in popularity as a way to provide extra help to those that struggle to perform Kegels correctly frequently enough.
Within the pelvic floor device category, not all products are equal, and only some have been cleared by the FDA to treat incontinence. They also vary greatly in where they are placed and how they work.
These smooth weights are placed in the vagina. You simply squeeze your pelvic floor muscles to keep the weight from falling out. Jade eggs were used for this purpose in Ancient China and are still available today. There are now variations on this original form (cones, balls, double bulbs) and some have a string or tether to aid in removal. Women can wear them from a few hours to all day.
Pros: Weights are cheap and easy to use, with only slight discomfort.
Cons: Weights should be cleaned thoroughly after every use to prevent infection. They require some conscious effort to keep them in place, so not surprisingly, humorous stories abound of weights dropping out of ladies’ skirts at inopportune times!
Biofeedback devices monitor how well a woman is squeezing her pelvic floor muscles, and provide feedback on whether she is squeezing the correct muscles, and how hard she is squeezing. These devices are often called “trainers.” A probe is placed in the vagina and the user squeezes her pelvic floor muscles, often according to a programmed routine. They may be as simple as an air pressure gauge, but more modern designs include an electronic sensor that communicates with a “fun” mobile app. Devices such as Elvie, Kegel Smart, and KGoal are some of the more common brands.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive. New digital models “coach” the women through each session and record her progress
Cons: Must be cleaned thoroughly to prevent infection. Require privacy and dedicated time. You only get out of it what you put in (i.e. you still do all the work). Fit may be an issue. These are not FDA-cleared to treat incontinence.