While we all might be curious about the best plunger or probiotic tampon or cold-sore remedy, it can be difficult to discuss these more personal items. That’s why we’re tackling Things We Don’t Talk About, a series in which we track down the best hygiene-, sex-, and bodily function–related things we all need but might be too embarrassed to ask about. Today, recommendations on the best Kegel exercisers (just in time for Valentine’s Day).
According to the NIH, roughly one in four women are affected by pelvic floor problems. Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor and can increase both the duration and intensity of orgasms. As physical therapist Amy Stein, author of Heal Pelvic Pain and owner of Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, explains: “The pelvic floor connects from the pubic bone in the front to the tailbone at the back and out to the sides of the hips, so it literally makes a bowl.” To determine whether you’re experiencing pelvic floor weakness, several of our experts recommended the “pee test”. When you go to urinate, squeeze your muscles and try to stop the flow of urine. If the flow does not stop, it is a strong indicator that you could be a good candidate for Kegels.
Physical therapist Heather Jeffcoat, author of Sex Without Pain and owner of Femina Physical Therapy, cautions not to start Kegel exercises if you’re experiencing pelvic pain but says that “otherwise, Kegels are a great way to help get your sexual and pelvic health [get] back on-track.” Stein adds that it is always a good idea to see a doctor or physical therapist before starting a Kegel regimen, too. To help those who’ve been given the green light, we spoke with six experts to find the best Kegel exercisers. Note that sex and relationship therapist Cyndi Darnell recommends that “all Kegel exercisers should be used with a water-based, glycerin free lubricant to ensure easy insertion and an irritation-free experience,” so here’s a full guide to those, as well.
The best smartphone-connected Kegel exercisers
The Elvie utilizes biofeedback technology to measure the force and motion of the contraction to detect when a user is exercising incorrectly and prevent damage. The Elvie also comes with an app. As sex therapist Jamye Waxman says, “The app helps monitor your progress and can really motivate you to see results.” It is made with medical-grade silicone and, as sex and relationship therapist Megan Fleming notes, is also waterproof, so you can use it in the bath or shower. It also comes complete with a guide to six unique workouts, with training, beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
The PeriCoach comes with a sensor that connects to an app on your phone to monitor your progress and provide guidance. As Jeffcoat says, “I use this in my offices, as it has an interface that allows me to create custom programs for patients. The display also gives real-time feedback on your smartphone so you can see if you are contracting, able to maintain your contraction, and importantly, if you are coming back down to a complete rest between contractions. It sends notifications to remind you to do your Kegels, too.”
The best electrostimulating Kegel exercisers
Fleming says that Yarlap “uses both vibration and electrostimulation as part of the training system.” The Yarlap system comes with six different workouts and you can set the intensity of the contraction to suite your comfort level.
Jeffcoat says, “I love this device as it’s so much more than a vibrator. It has electrical stimulation which helps contract your pelvic floor muscles, making orgasms more intense, especially when used with the vibration.” The Intensity can also be inflated or deflated after insertion to provide the perfect fit. As Fleming says, “a big part of this is comfort.”
The best weighted-ball exercisers
Sex therapist and sex shop owner Marlene Wasserman recommends the NOVA because “the three graded balls provide the opportunity for a great sexual-health training program which will bring tremendous benefits over time.” This set also comes with a lubricant to prevent irritation. Stein adds that the most important thing she tells her patients is that in order to see results they must “stick to a good program, do it regularly, and be consistent with it.”
Stein says that if you are going to buy a more affordable set, “make sure you are getting body-safe, high-quality silicone.” Waxman adds that this kit has “got two sets of weights, the single balls for when you’re just starting out and the double balls for when you’ve nailed it.”
Darnell says that these balls “offer a collection of different sizes and weights that allow for greater flexibility for the perfect fit for every body.” Stein adds, “I recommend the weights but only recommend for short periods of time because patients end up doing it for too long and then they end up with other issues.” Stein recommends starting out by using the weights for one-minute intervals, two or three times a day at the maximum.
Weighted Kegel exercisers are designed to complement traditional, manual Kegel exercises. By adding extra resistance, the balls make for a more effective workout in less time. It’s analogous to other kinds of workouts: like increasing tone with dumbbells, you can add the weighted balls to tone your pelvic floor. As Jeffcoat explains, “These weighted balls are comfortable and well-priced. I prescribe [them] to my patients as a progression from their basic Kegel home program and they feel so empowered when they have graduated to this level.” These are better-suited for women who have already gotten comfortable with a regular regimen, not beginners.
The best vibrating Kegel exercisers
After insertion, the Vivi is gripped and held in place by the pelvic floor muscles to strengthen and tone while also providing both clitoral and internal stimulation. Darnell says, “The Vivi is designed to train the PC muscle while also adding clitoral stimulation during day-to-day activities. A fun way to get your tone on.”
The best no-frills Kegel exerciser
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