What are Kegel exercisers?
You know what Kegel exercises are, you’ve tried to do them, and you’ve seen minimal results. What next? The good news is there are a bunch of Kegel exercise devices and Kegel machines on the market that can improve your pelvic floor health. The best Kegel exercisers teach you how to do the pelvic floor exercises correctly. Done consistently, Kegels are proven to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles. Other treatments beyond the devices are described further below.
How do Kegel exercisers work?
Your pelvic floor consists of a network of layered muscles, kind of like a hammock, that supports your bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. Just as with the rest of your body, these muscles need exercise to stay toned and function correctly. Kegels exercisers target these pelvic floor muscles, teaching your body to contract and release the muscles to tighten and improve strength. Some Kegel exercise devices use internal, vaginal probes to either train you how to do Kegels or actually do them for you. External devices are not invasive and stimulate your muscles to do Kegels longer and stronger than you could on your own.
What’s the best Kegel exerciser for me?
We’ve rolled up our sleeves and conducted our own consumer research (yes, we’ve tried the devices). Because there are so many types of Kegel exercisers, it’s sometimes confusing to know which one is best for you. We’ve evaluated cost, pros and cons, and how each device works, plus reviews for each type of exerciser. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the best Kegel exercise devices with further description below.
Keep the series of increasing weights from falling out to identify and build up muscles. These balls, cones, or egg-shapes are as simple as they come, dating back thousands of years. They are inexpensive and easy to understand. However, they do require privacy and dedicated time. Anything vaginally inserted will have a higher risk of infection. $50-100 Names: Kegel balls, Kegel cones, Yoni or jade egg, Ben Wa ball, and many generic.
Review: Easy to use to isolate pelvic floor muscles. Once you identify your muscles, it’s easier to do Kegels on your own.
Biofeedback measures the strength of Kegel contractions as you squeeze. These vaginally inserted probes have gotten more sophisticated. They are mostly connected to mobile apps, some with fun games to play as you squeeze. They still have a risk of infection and require dedicated time and privacy to use. Most are not FDA approved for incontinence. $100-300 Brands: KegelSmart, KGoal, Elvie, PeriCoach, Perifit, Peritone
Review: Fit can be uncomfortable. The games are fun at first. Once you identify pelvic floor muscles, it’s easier to do Kegels on your own.
Electrical stimulation (E-stim) contracts the pelvic floor muscles (does Kegels) for you. These devices have been around for forty years. Originally only found in doctors‘ and physical therapy offices, they are now approved for home use. They still require dedicated time, privacy, and have a risk of infection. Some require a prescription, but others are now over-the-counter. There is some insurance reimbursement. $300-1200. Brands: Apex, Attain, Liberty, Yarlap, Kegel8, Leva
Review: Clinically proven to work and some are quite strong. Contracts the correct muscles for you, but the vaginal activation leaves you feeling somewhat “violated.” It’s hard to commit to consistent private sessions.
Stimulation (E-stim) contracts the pelvic floor muscles (does Kegels) for you. These devices are new on the market. The FDA created a new category to treat incontinence. Although the technology is similar to the vaginal e-stim, these devices are made easy to apply and use. They automatically do Kegels longer and stronger than on your own. Worn externally on the body, there is less risk of infection and are more comfortable while treating at home. One allows you to get dressed and walk around and do other things. They are over-the-counter purchases. There is some insurance reimbursement. $400-450. Brands: ELITONE, Innovo
Review: Clinically proven to work. Easy to use while going about normal daily tasks. Easy is the key so that you will continue with the treatments.
What’s the big deal about pelvic floor health?
In addition to supporting pelvic organs, your pelvic floor muscles control how effective your contractions are when you go to the bathroom. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women in the US experience incontinence, and those who procrastinate addressing the problem might need more intense treatments, or even surgery. Stress urinary incontinence occurs when your bladder leaks under sudden pressure, like when you laugh, sneeze, or cough. Even exercising can trigger bladder leakage. Tightening these pelvic floor muscles gives you better control to stop bladder leaks.
Are there other stress urinary incontinence treatments?
There are other options that may stop bladder leaks, but most require office visits. Check out this quick overview to learn more about alternative treatments for bladder leakage.
Magnetic chair treatment is similar to electrical stimulation (E-stim) devices because they both create an electric current to stimulate Kegel exercises. Brand: BTL Emsella
|Easy to use.||Cost of 6 treatments is up to $2000.|
|Sit on the chair fully clothed.||Must be administered by a provider with followup visits, so you don’t own a device.|
|A US government study of nonsurgical treatments (AHRQ, Effective Health Care Program No. 36) determined magnetic chair therapy had the worst effectiveness score.|
Injectable Bulking Agents
The goal of these synthetic and nonsynthetic materials is to bulk up the area around the urethra so the resulting smaller opening is easier to control.
|Easy procedure with no real surgery.||No long-term efficacy.|
|Seemingly quick results.||Read more on Medscape.|
Lasers, Radiofrequency, and Red Light Therapy
These therapies use vaginal probes to deliver laser, radiofrequency or red light pulses to increase blood flow to the vaginal wall and surrounding area. The intention is to stimulate collagen production or to create scar tissue to bulk up the area around the urethra.
|Requires no “work”||Risk of burns with lasers.|
|Can see quick results||Not FDA approved for incontinence, resulting in warning letters from the FDA in 2018 for inappropriate marketing.|
|Can be expensive|
Botox and Implants
Botox injections, sacral nerve stimulation implants, and tibial nerve stimulation are only used for urgency, overactive bladders, and urge incontinence. This type of incontinence often involves nerve damage. Learn more about urge incontinence here.
Because there are no medications for stress urinary incontinence, patients might think that surgery is the only option. There are a variety of nonsurgical treatments, but click here to learn more about surgery for stress urinary incontinence.
The more you know about pelvic floor health, the better equipped you’ll be to choose the treatment that’s right for you. Check out these articles about pelvic health and incontinence:
- Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Me?
- How to do Kegel Exercises Correctly
- ELITONE: Your nonvaginal treatment solution