What are Kegel exercisers?
You know about Kegel exercises, you’ve tried to do them, and you’ve seen minimal results. That’s frustrating! Research shows that 1 in 4 women do Kegel exercises incorrectly, and who can blame them when you can’t see your progress. Even when you learn the correct form, it’s difficult to perform multiple sessions every day. What next? The good news is there are Kegel exercise devices and Kegel machines on the market that help you strengthen and tone those pelvic floor muscles. The best Kegel exercisers teach you how to do the pelvic floor exercises correctly. Even better, some can do the work for you.
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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 1 in 3 women in the US experience incontinence, and those who procrastinate addressing the problem might need more intense treatment, such as a physical therapist 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 by using a Kegel exerciser gives you better control to stop bladder leaks.
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 Kegel 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 devices for Kegel exercises, with further descriptions below.
Weights are inserted vaginally, and you squeeze to keep a 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. Kegel weights are inexpensive ($50–$100) and easy to understand. However, they do require privacy and dedicated time. Anything vaginally inserted will have a higher risk of infection. Names: Kegel balls, Kegel cones, Yoni or jade egg, Ben Wa ball, and many generics.
Review: Easy to use to isolate pelvic floor muscles. Once you identify your muscles, it’s easier to do Kegels anywhere on your own.
Biofeedback measures the strength of Kegel contractions as you squeeze around the device. Most of these vaginally inserted probes are connected to mobile apps so you can see your progress, and some offer fun games to play as you squeeze. Kegel trainers still have a risk of infection and require dedicated time and privacy during use. Most are not FDA approved for incontinence. Cost is $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, doing your Kegels for you. Don’t let the term “electrical stimulation” scare you. Electrical currents are how your brain talks to your muscles and tell them to move, and these devices have been around for 40 years. Originally only found in doctors‘ and physical therapy offices, vaginal e-stim devices are now approved for home use, but require dedicated time and privacy, plus there’s a risk of infection. Both prescription and over-the-counter types are available. Cost is $300-–$1200, with some insurance reimbursement. 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.
Electrical stimulation (e-stim) contracts the pelvic floor muscles, doing the Kegel for you. The FDA created a new category to treat incontinence, so these Kegel exercisers are new on the market. Although similar to the vaginal e-stim, these devices are applied externally, allowing for comfort and safety. They automatically do Kegels longer and stronger than on your own. ELITONE disposable GelPads are worn like a sanitary pad, so you can get dressed and do other things while undergoing treatment. The Innovo system uses similar technology but requires you to be stationary and involves more preparation, including the sizing of their shorts. Both devices are over-the-counter purchases, with some insurance reimbursement. Cost runs $400–$450. Brands: ELITONE, Innovo.
Review for ELITONE: 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.
Review for Innovo: Better than the vaginal devices, but need to be sized right, many steps to get the shorts ready each time, and you need to stay stationary.
Are there other stress urinary incontinence treatments?
There are other options besides Kegel exercisers that may stop bladder leaks, but most require office visits. These other treatments fall into two categories:
- Alternative ways to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, such as magnetic stimulation.
- Methods of physically blocking the urethra passageway to reduce leaks, such as filler injections around the urethra, pessaries, or even creating scar tissue via lasers.
- Pelvic floor physical therapists who manually help identify pelvic floor muscles and work with you to strengthen them.
Surgery: A Last Resort
Because there are no medications for stress urinary incontinence, patients might think surgery is the only option. But the FDA recently warned about problems with surgical mesh implants. Surgery should be a last resort!
The more you know about pelvic floor health, the better equipped you’ll be to choose the treatment that’s right for you. Whatever you choose, it’s important to get treated. Waiting will cost you more and may not be effective as your incontinence progresses. If you still need help after you’ve tried Kegel exercises on your own, check out ELITONE—the first external treatment available without a prescription. PLUS it’s worn under your clothes so you can get on with your life! It doesn’t get any easier to treat!