What Are You Doing for Pelvic Floor Health?

“Sneezing just ain’t the same.”

A good friend uttered that sentence at a table full of women. There was a brief pause, and then we all erupted in laughter. We got it. You see, we’d all given birth in the not-too-distant past and had experienced stress incontinence.

Stress incontinence occurs when your bladder is “stressed” in some way — through physical activity, laughing, coughing, sneezing — and urine leaks out. It’s not uncommon among women after childbirth or in later age.

But it isn’t inevitable. There are ways to strengthen the pelvic floor to keep everything tight and in check. One of the added benefits of pelvic floor health is that it permits more pressure and flexing during sexual intercourse, which can be pleasurable for both husband and wife.

What’s the primary method for strengthening the pelvic floor? Let’s all say it together, ladies! Kegel Exercises.

Now if you’re like me, you hate doing Kegel exercises. Not because they’re painful, but because you can’t remember to do them often enough, and when you do them, you’re not exactly sure if you’re doing them right. Or you wonder if maybe someone does notice that you’re flexing your down-there muscles since you just remembered to do them in the grocery store line and that woman over there is looking at you funny.

Some ecard: Pelvic Floor Awareness Month

So I started looking at other options. Because I don’t remember to do push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks either, but if you buy me exercise equipment or sign me up for the gym, I’ll exercise (at least some) because I don’t want to waste the money and that gadget looks kind of cool.

I’m sharing what I found, and then asking you to comment on what, if anything, you’re doing for pelvic floor health.

Vaginal Weights. There are several different types, but the main idea is to place a weight of some kind in the vagina. The inner muscles reflexively contract to keep the weight inside, and over time the pelvic floor is strengthened. Examples include Ben Wa Balls, Lelo Beads, and vaginal cones.

Ben Wa Balls
They just look like silver marbles to me.

Lelo Beads
One or more at a time.

Vaginal Cones
Don’t they look like tiny tampons?

This form of pelvic floor exercise has been around for centuries, but professionally manufactured vaginal weights are often recommended by obstetricians and gynecologists today.

Pelvic Exerciser. If the examples above are like the free weights in the gym, pelvic exercisers are like the body-building machines. These mechanical contraptions are inserted into the vagina and then expand and contract to work your pelvic floor muscles into shape. They come with such names as Kegel Pro and Kegelmaster and — for the uber-serious, I guess — the Kegelmaster 2000.

Kegelmaster
Does coloring it purple make it less scary?

Vaginal Sensor. A vaginal sensor comes with a small part to insert into the vagina attached to a sensor that you hold. The sensor prompts you when to flex and when to release, thus exercising your Kegel muscles properly. I suppose it’s like having your own personal trainer at the gym. There are several brand names for such products, and sensors are also used in urology offices to detect incontinence issues.

Bia Health Pelvic Muscle Toner
Does this remind anyone else of a Wii remote with a nunchuk?

“The Flexible Accessory.” I have no idea where to categorize this thing. But I found something called The Magic Banana. It has an odd shape but purports to exercise Kegel muscles and thus strengthen the pelvic floor. It’s sort of like that home gym equipment you see on some infomercial that you’d never know how to use without them demonstrating it for you. So I watched the demo video.

Very soon, I was thinking that this banana was a little too magical. It was going beyond pelvic floor muscle exercises to G-spot exploration. I was starting to have impure thoughts looking at my fruit bowl. But one doesn’t have to use the tool that way. You could just use it to give those Kegels a workout.

The Magic Banana
It sounds like a children’s cartoon show title.

So here are my questions:

  • Have you experienced stress incontinence?
  • Do you exercise your Kegel muscles regularly?
  • What methods or products have you used?
  • Do you have one or more to recommend?
  • If you do exercise your pelvic floor, have you or your husband noticed a difference in your lovemaking?

18 thoughts on “What Are You Doing for Pelvic Floor Health?

  1. Amanda

    I have wanted to try the Lelo Beads or Ben Wa Balls but I try to do kegels during sex. I will try to hold on tight as if I am trying to keep him from pulling out. Not only does it help me strengthen but it feels great for him!

  2. Rebekah

    Does kegaling (?) my husband numerous times a week work? I’ve always been terrible remembering to exersize any other way. Sometimes, when I’m making a point of kegaling, my husband has to laugh at me for the face I make, though he appreciates the kegal itself.
    To be honest though, I have four kids so far and no incontinence, so maybe husbands do work…. no silver marbles for me, thanks!

  3. amyh65

    As a childbirth educator and doula, I’ve been teaching Kegels for over 20 years and trying to be consistent about doing them myself! It is true that they are an easy exercise, but not one that most women are inclined to do on a regular basis. For my pregnant moms I encourage them to do them when they are sitting at a stoplight, waiting in line at the grocery store or while washing their hands before leaving the bathroom.

    And as a little lesson in Kegels so you know to do them correctly: locate your Kegel muscle by stopping the flow of urine once or twice, or yes, by squeezing your hubby during intercourse (much more fun!). 😉
    When doing Kegel exercises, you should not be contracting your abdominal muscles or buttocks, but mimic the contraction you did when stopping urine. If you are squeezing you face all up when trying to do these exercises, then you are not contracting the correct muscles. 😉 The beauty of kegel exercises is that you can do them anywhere, anytime and no one (except maybe hubby) should know you are doing them.
    Contract the muscle to the count of five, hold for a count of five (or as long as you can in the beginning), then release to the count of five. You can simply contract, hold for a second and release also. Do at least 10 reps each time you do them throughout the day.

    So, there is my lesson on Kegels! LOL
    And I just thought of another good time to do them…while you are reading J’s blog posts! But remember to keep a straight face, unless you just cannot help but laugh at some of what she writes. 😉

  4. Paul Byerly

    Did a LOT of research on this years ago, and the best results come from a device that gives feedback. A monitor is ideal, but anything that will move noticeably should also give good results.

    And yes, strong PC can do wonderful things for a man. A good firm squeegee at the right moment…

  5. LH

    I don’t promote my business on blogs so pardon this breech of etiquette. Since you can end up at some dicey sites when searching for kegal balls and I sell these at a Christian run site, I thought it might be forgiven 🙂 If you visit http://covenantspice.com and enter “balls” or “kegels” as a search word you will find about 10 options.

    1. J

      Yes, thanks for that! (Most people probably have NO IDEA how many merchants attempt to sell their stuff through spammy comments on blogs. I probably delete 10 spam comments a day.) However, I’ve been to your site, and I’ll vouch for you!

      I strongly recommend Christian-based marital aid sites for purchasing items like this. 🙂

  6. Anonymous

    You are hilarious! Thanks for that informative and enjoyable read. I had no idea an alternative existed (shame on me), but I think I’ll try the Ben Wa Balls. Glad I found your blog!!

  7. Anonymous

    Hello. I have a spiney set of balls and they were just painful trying to get them out. I also have a shiny stainless steel set….I gave up….you have to be contracted(clenching)continuously….and woops there they go…I think I’m pretty good at kegals….I just cant keep those balls in long term….

  8. Tara

    Actually, I don’t believe kegels are the appropriate exercise for optimum pelvic floor health. They may be somewhat helpful, but are just not a well rounded enough approach. The actual muscles that need strengthening are numerous and not all are served by a kegel. Therapists trained in pelvic floor disorders use a number of exercises. A great place to start for a comprehensive pelvic health program would be something like the Hab-it DVDs which require little to no odd-looking/awkward devices with likely much more marked improvement. http://www.hab-it.com Or better yet find a physical therapist in your area who specializes in pelvic floor strengthening and work with them.

  9. Anonymous

    I second Amanda and Rebekah,

    I do a lot of them during sex and sometimes during the day, though I mostly forget. I have had three kids and my hubby says he can tell after a baby I am looser but tighten up pretty quickly. Yes, I have “made” him go at times, just by squeezing when I can tell he is close. Talk about feeling like a powerful, active sex partner!! Love it!

  10. Knitted in the Womb

    I agree Tara! I’ve been a childbirth educator for 12 years, and I’ve taught Kegels. But I also learned a few years ago that research shows that teaching pregnant women to do Kegels does not reduce the incidence of urinary incontinence, so…

    Unfortunately I suspect that a lot of where the big push to Kegel in pregnancy came from was from The Bradley Method, and I can speak as a former certified Bradley instructor…we were never given any research to back up the “facts” we taught about the benefits of Kegels, or to back up the specific method of doing Kegels that we were to teach our students.

    A couple of years ago I came across a blog called “Katy Says” that talks about human bio-mechanics, and spends quite a bit of time talking about pelvic floor health. Katy explains there (as she does here: http://breakingmuscle.com/womens-fitness/stop-doing-kegels-real-pelvic-floor-advice-women-and-men ) that a “tight” pelvic floor muscle does not always mean a “strong” pelvic floor muscle. She recommends strengthening the GLUTES–the butt–to get pelvic floor health. Now I happen to think there is a balance to be had–some Kegels, some glute strengthening–but I definitely think she is raising important issues here. I hope there is more research on this in the future!

    1. J

      Well, this is fascinating…because have you heard of a product called the Squatty Potty? I watched that demo too, and it was very convincing. Apparently, with all of our conveniences in modern-day life, we just don’t squat enough.

      Mulling all this over…

      Thanks.

    2. Knitted in the Womb

      I have heard of the Squatty Potty…it’s a bit pricey for my 6-kids-1-income family, but pulling up a short stool in front of the potty allows a similar posture, so I often use it. It does help with some of the “changes” that having 6 children has led to in my body.

  11. Jen U

    So funny! Tara and Knitted, I am very recently one of the “converted” that recognizes that Kegels are NOT the holy grail of pelvic floor health/strength! Only a few days ago, I discovered Katy Says as well. So much amazing info there. It’s actually a lot to jump into. Here’s a great “starter” post to explain this foreign concept in the form of an interview with Katy:

    Pelvic Floor Party: Kegels are NOT Invited
    (Click on my name. It’s not my blog, but just makes the link “clickable.”)

  12. Tara

    Yes! Thank you for sharing! Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s seeing the light beyond kegels. I have looked into the squatty potty too, but I’ve just been using the little stools that we keep in our bathrooms for the little ones too.

  13. Anonymous

    I did kegels for five years, diligently, because sex was quite disappointing for me after six kids. I used three different “tools”, including the vaginal sensor/feedback one and that big purple scary looking one. I was desperate. Finally, after kid #7, I knew I had to find something different! Something wasn’t right because it WASN’T working. I found Katy’s blog, read everything I could from her, even took her pelvic floor course, and started doing the stretches. It’s been nearly a year now and I am one thankful woman for this new information. I still have years of “undoing” to do, but this works. Sex is becoming pleasurable again! Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Comments are closed.