“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?