Are you ready for your vagina to talk to your smartphone?
Well get ready, because new products are coming out that will track the effectiveness of your Kegel exercises by sending feedback from a device inserted in the vagina to a smartphone app.
Why do women need new devices such as the Elvie and kGoal? Because not enough women do enough Kegels. And anything that encourages women to do their Kegels is welcome.
The levator ani muscle is a funnel shaped muscle which holds the pelvic organs in normal position, and was recognized by Dr. Arnold Kegel as important in the maintenance of urinary continence. The muscle became known as the Kegel muscle.
Like aerobic exercise for heart health, Kegel exercise is one of the most important preventive health actions a woman can take to ensure a healthy pelvic floor. The pelvic floor can weaken over time and lead to a pelvic floor disorder (PFD), such as urinary or fecal incontinence and prolapse (when organs fall or “slip” and protrude through the vagina or rectum).
Nearly one-quarter of American women will develop a PFD in their lifetime. PFDs become more prevalent as a woman ages, with 40 percent of women 60 years and older suffering from one or more PFD conditions.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor, which can be very effective in preventing pelvic floor disorders. Ever since Kegel introduced his new exercise in 1948, people have been improving and simplifying Kegels. New devices are a great way to take your training to the next level.
Electrify pelvic floor exercises
While there is no shortage of devices to help you squeeze your way to a stronger pelvic floor (see the list below), a few recent technologies have simplified the process and made workouts more effective.
- Elvie: inserted into the vagina, the device sends information to a smartphone app that measures the strength and effectiveness of a workout. The sensor detects the direction of muscle movement to ensure that women are lifting up on the muscles rather than pushing them down. The device will be available for pre-order in March 2015.
- kGoal: similar to Elvie, kGoal is also an intravaginal device that sends biofeedback to an app on your smartphone while you exercise. The app suggests workout plans according to an individual’s capabilities as well as tracking muscle strength and endurance. kGoal is currently available for pre-order.
- Pelvic floor exercise apps available through Apple and Google:
- Birdi measures the level of pelvic floor muscle activity during exercise. The upgraded version of the app sends progress updates to your doctor.
- Down There for Women avoids Kegels altogether and describes stretches for the larger muscles, especially in the legs and hips, which can have an affect on the alignment of a woman’s pelvis.
- Kegel Kat is a free, customizable app that reminds you to do your Kegels and guides you through them.
- Squeezy helps women organize and perform pelvic floor exercises by providing a variety of slow and fast workouts that can be tailored to individual needs.
Traditional Kegel devices
Products that assist women in their Kegel exercises include intravaginal resistance, biofeedback devices and Kegel-specific exercise videos such as the following:
- Weighted cones: Inserted into vagina, this device triggers an involuntary contraction reflex to keep the cone in place. Once a woman can keep the cone in place while standing and walking, she graduates to the next weight.
- Pelvic toners: Also inserted into the vagina, pelvic toners have a slight, adjustable spring that provides resistance to your workouts.
- Biofeedback devices: These products measure the amount of muscle activity during exercise and help isolate the specific pelvic muscles. Traditionally these devices have been less than discrete and were only offered under supervision of a specialist.
- Colpexin sphere: A polycarbonate sphere inserted above the hymenal ring and held in place by the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, preferably while the woman is moving.
- Exercise videos: Such exercise videos as “Fitball” can be tailored specifically for pelvic health, with many providing gentle resistance exercises that increase in intensity over time.
No studies show that these exercise aids improve the strength of the levator ani muscle (also known as the Kegel muscle) and decrease incontinence. If the use of a device reminds you to perform the exercise, and if one is able to perform the “squeeze” of a Kegel contraction, then one can put this muscle to work.
If you squeeze at the peak of a cough, laugh or sneeze, the present increases in the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the vulva) and urinary leakage decreases. If you squeeze three times rapidly when a bladder spasm begins, you may be able to overcome urge-initiated leakage as the three rapid squeezes “short circuit” the bladder spasm and prevent leaking.
SO SQUEEZE WITH A SNEEZE!! FREEZE AND SQUEEZE THREE TIMES!!
University of Colorado Urogynecology is a specialty women’s health practice focused on female pelvic health and surgery. Our physicians are also professors & researchers for the CU School of Medicine, one of the top-ranked medical schools in the nation.