5 Nonsurgical alternatives to Kegels for incontinence
1. Pelvic Floor Therapy for Incontinence
Physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor therapy can improve pelvic floor health and treat incontinence. These professionals provide advice on how to retrain your bladder and help you identify the correct way to do Kegels. Pelvic floor physical therapy often includes internal vaginal manipulation, as well as an invasive biofeedback probe (see below) to determine what’s happening with pelvic floor muscles. Not only are these treatments invasive and uncomfortable, but multiple office visits are time-consuming and costly. Not all insurance providers cover this type of PT, and if you have young children, childcare may be required. If pelvic floor physical therapy isn’t a good fit for you, try an at-home incontinence treatment for convenience.
Biofeedback probes are inserted vaginally and determine how much you’re squeezing your Kegel muscles. It is a beneficial alternative to guessing if you are doing Kegels correctly. These devices, often connected to apps, allow visualization of progress. However, they require numerous sessions and privacy, and because these probes are invasive, there’s a risk of infection.
Similar to biofeedback devices, Kegel exercise weights are inserted vaginally. The idea is to squeeze the cone-shaped weight to prevent it from dropping out, thereby exercising the pelvic floor muscles. Aside from the obvious invasive nature of these weights, there is a risk for infection if not sanitized properly.
4. Vaginal E-Stim
The good news is recent e-stim (electrical stimulation) devices, as with biofeedback devices, are designed and approved to be used at home. These Kegel exercise devices do the work for you. The elongated probes are inserted vaginally and send a mild electric current that stimulates the pelvic floor muscles to contract, giving you the benefits of Kegels. However, as with any internal device, vaginal e-stim products come with a risk of infection. In addition, they also require you to be lying down in a private setting during multiple treatments.
5. Surface E-Stim
Recently, the FDA created a new category for medical devices that are both noninvasive and treat incontinence. ELITONE is the first FDA-cleared device available in this new category sold without a prescription. ELITONE allows women to treat SUI from the comfort of their own homes. As with vaginal e-stim, surface e-stim devices exercise for you, achieving the benefits of Kegel exercises without the intense effort. However, you apply this device externally on the pubis and buttocks with a single GelPad. The discreet device is worn under your clothing, so it comfortably treats stress urinary incontinence while going about your daily routine.