According to the NIH, roughly one in four women are affected by pelvic-floor problems, which typically occur when the pelvic floor is weakened or injured. This can often happen after childbirth or simply as you age. Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor and can increase both the duration and intensity of orgasms. As physical therapist Amy Stein, the 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, many of the nine experts we talked to recommend 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, the 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.” Still, Stein strongly recommends talking with a doctor or physical therapist before starting a Kegel regimen. That’s because the exercises can cause more harm than good if you perform them when you don’t have to, according to many of our experts. Pelvic floor problems typically occur when the muscles that make up the bowl are too tight or too lax (conditions otherwise known as a high-tone or low-tone pelvic floor), and if your muscles are too tight, Kegels can lead to a variety of problems, including urinary and bowel issues, poor sexual functioning, and even pelvic pain. To help those who’ve been given a green light for a Kegel regimen, we asked our experts about the best Kegel exercisers. Their 11 favorites — which range from basic Kegel weights to vibrating exercisers to smart devices that give biofeedback via apps — are below. No matter which you choose, 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 you might want to check out our guide to the best personal lubricants once you’ve settled on your preferred Kegel tool.
Best overall Kegel exerciser
If you’re unsure how to properly perform a Kegel, opting for a device that has biofeedback technology — or sensors in the device that tell you how well you’re doing your Kegels — may be a good place to start. Many women may accidentally “push out, instead of contracting upwards,” explains physical therapist Jandra Mueller, the clinic director of the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center. She and three of our other experts recommend the Elvie Trainer, which utilizes biofeedback technology to measure the force and motion of a contraction in order to detect when a user is exercising incorrectly. It has a “comfortable fit, is compact and sleek looking, and has an app that connects to your phone,” according to Mueller, who told us that the physical therapists at her practice routinely recommend the Elvie to patients for at-home use. The well-designed app makes it easier to visualize what’s going on internally, adds sex therapist Jamye Waxman. “The app helps monitor your progress and can really motivate you to see results,” she explains. The Elvie 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 with a guide to six unique workouts that challenge and strengthen different muscles at four different intensity levels (training, beginner, intermediate, and advanced).
Best (less expensive) Kegel exerciser
“The kGoal is a squeezable, silicone ‘pillow,’ that is inserted into the vagina,” explains New York City–based pelvic floor therapist Lindsey Vestal, who has run workshops teaching men and women about Kegels for the past six years. Like the Elvie, the kGoal delivers real-time biofeedback to your smartphone, ensuring that your Kegels are being done correctly. It also tracks your performance and progress over time and allows you to calculate your regimen. The biggest difference between this and the Elvie is that the kGoal’s “pillow design enables it to fit better inside the user’s individual vagina,” according to Vestal. Simply insert it when it’s deflated and then inflate it to fit your unique shape and size, which “enables it to stay inside better, which of course, yields more accurate metrics,” she says.
Best electrostimulating Kegel exerciser
Unlike more traditional Kegel exercisers, some devices use electrostimulation to make your muscles to contract on their own, so you don’t need to worry about manually squeezing and releasing. While a bit pricey, Fleming loves the electrostimulating Yarlap because its training program helps people see results quickly and easily. It comes with six different workouts, and you can set the intensity and duration of the contraction to suit your comfort level.
Best (less expensive) electrostimulating Kegel exerciser
“I love this device as it’s so much more than a vibrator,” explains Jeffcoat. “Its electrical stimulation helps contract your pelvic floor muscles, making orgasms more intense.” While the internal part of the Intensity uses electrostimulation, it also has an external clitoral attachment that vibrates to add an additional level of stimulation. Like the kGoal, the Intensity can also be inflated or deflated after insertion to provide the perfect fit — which is key, because having a device that is easy to insert and keep in place makes it easier to commit to doing the exercises. As Fleming says, “a big part of this is comfort.”
Best vibrating Kegel exercisers
If you find electrostimulation to be too intense, a device that simply vibrates may be a better choice. The Aneros Vivi marries utility and pleasure so that you can tone your pelvic floor while experiencing pleasant vibration. 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. The Vivi also has an active and a manual mode, so you can use it with or without the connected app. “The Vivi is designed to train the PC muscle while also adding clitoral stimulation during day-to-day activities,” says Darnell, which is “a fun way to get your tone on.”