Do you leak a little when you sneeze, cough, or jump around with the kids on the trampoline? Daily kegel exercises are a highly recommended solution for pelvic floor dysfunction including incontinence or when the pelvic floor muscles have weakened due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, chronic constipation, or surgery. And similar to how weight training at the gym will improve muscle strength in your arms or legs, kegel weights, also known as kegel trainers, can provide extra resistance training for the pelvic floor muscles.
In this article we will look at two different brands in the Kegel trainer space: Elvie and Intimate Rose. However, first let's cover why you might need to use a kegel exercise tool in the first place as it pertains to the pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor muscles run like a hammock from one side of the pelvis to the other and from the pubic bone in the front of the body to the tailbone at end of the spine. The function of the pelvic floor muscles is to protect and support vital organs like the bladder, bowel, rectum, vagina, and uterus. The pelvic floor muscles also assist with bladder and bowel control in addition to improving core strength, sexual sensations, and orgasms.
Known to weaken due to aging, pregnancy, surgery, pelvic injuries, or trauma, the pelvic muscles can also be overstretched during pregnancy or childbirth. The consequence of weak or overstretched pelvic floor muscles is a lack of support for the pelvic organs, which often results in bladder or bowel incontinence, organ prolapse, and a lack of sexual pleasure due to less feeling in the vaginal region.
Kegel exercises are a form of training for the pelvic floor muscles when they have been weakened or overstretched. Performed by repetitively and consciously contracting the muscles which involves the pelvic floor muscles lifting, squeezing before releasing, Kegel exercises are ideally practiced daily until incontinence, organ prolapse, or sexual sensations are improved. In fact, once the benefits of kegel exercises are recognized, many women practice them a few times per week to daily for the rest of their lives.
While Kegel exercises are effective to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, the addition of Kegel weights has been proven to significantly enhance recovery as well as improve female orgasms.
Also referred to as vaginal weights, Kegel weights (or trainers) are used to gradually strengthen the pelvic floor muscles over time. Designed to slip easily into the vaginal canal, the pelvic floor muscles naturally engage to hold the weight in place thereby creating a form of resistance training. To begin with, female health experts recommend simply holding the weight in place for 5-15 minutes per day while performing active Kegels, gentle exercises, or light activities such as a shower, or washing the dishes. Once the weight can be comfortably held in place, further resistance training can be applied by contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles.
Well-designed Kegel weights are always created with a progressive program in mind which allows the user to move gradually through a muscle-strengthening program. Kegel weights come in sets of incrementally heavier weights, for example, while electronic kegel weights are typically equipped with progressive challenge settings.
Kegel weights, or kegel trainers, are good for strengthening pelvic floor muscles when they have weakened after pregnancy, childbirth, pelvic injuries, pelvic surgery, or menopause. They were also designed to ensure that you can proplerly locate and activate the pelvic floor muscles and thus provide biofeedback to the user. For example, if you do not activate the muscles properly the weight will slide out of the vaginal canal, giving instant feedback on how you are doing. However, if the pelvic floor muscles are tight or overactive, Kegel weights will not help and can often worsen symptoms.
To be safe, it is always advisable to consult with your health practitioner before using Kegel weights to ensure that they will help with your condition. If using Kegel weights after childbirth, it is important to get clearance from your midwife or ob-gyn before beginning – this usually happens after the six-week postpartum check-up but can be longer for some, depending on the birthing experience.
There are two main types of Kegel trainers – weighted Kegel trainers and electronic (smart) Kegel trainers. That said, there are numerous brands of Kegel weights and many differ with regard to efficacy, size, weight, technology, the material from which they are produced, and value for money.
Medical-grade silicone Kegel weights, for example, are the most highly recommended for comfort and body safety. Whereas plastic weights are too rigid and uncomfortable for the sensitive skin of the vaginal canal and porous stone eggs have been proven to be harmful to the vaginal tissues.
Kegel weights can also vary when it comes to how they work. Smart (electronic) kegel trainers are equipped with biofeedback from a linked app installed on a phone or tablet device, for example, while weighted Kegel trainers do not require any technology or apps.
The Elvie and Intimate Rose Kegel trainers are considered two of the best for strengthening pelvic floor muscles in today’s market. On the plus side, both the Elvie Trainer and Intimate Rose Kegel Weights are produced with body-safe, medical-grade silicone, and are FDA-registered. Intimate Rose Kegel Exercise System is also FDA cleared in addition to registered. Besides these commonalities, however, the two products offer widely different experiences.
The Elvie Trainer, for example, is a smart device that fits snugly within the vagina and connects to a phone app to provide biofeedback that promises to notify users when to contract the pelvic floor. This technology-driven pelvic trainer offers six exercises along with four different levels, allowing users to track their progress on the accompanying app.
Although, in theory, the Elvie Trainer sounds perfect for modern-day women who like to keep track of everyday activities on their phones, customer feedback mentions recurring technological problems. Many reviews report problems connecting the device to the app, for instance, as well as staying connected throughout the kegel workout, while others highlight that the contraction sensors lack accuracy and customers frequently mention that the device is difficult to charge.
Intimate Rose Kegel Exercise System, on the other hand, do not require any technology to function correctly and are quickly becoming known as the most comfortable and effective pelvic floor trainers for vaginal pelvic health. Designed to fit comfortably inside the vaginal canal like a weight tampon, they are sold in a set of six progressively heavier weights ranging from 0.9 to 4.4 ounces. And as the only set of Kegel weights used for training by the Academy of Pelvic Health, Intimate Rose Kegel Weights are medically recommended to strengthen the pelvic floor after childbirth, menopause, pelvic surgery & trauma.
Designed by Dr. Amanda Olson, who is a mom as well as a pelvic health physical therapist, and winner of the 2019 Women’s Health Award, the Intimate Rose Kegel weights are also capable of alerting users when they are not contracting correctly, albeit in a more natural way. Essentially, when the pelvic muscles are not engaged to hold the Kegel weight in place, it will begin to slip out, thus notifying the user that further contraction of the pelvic muscles is required for strengthening.
Price-wise, there is a huge difference between the Elvie Trainer and Intimate Rose Kegel weights. Costing just $49.99, the Intimate Rose Kegel Weight Exercise System is three times less expensive than the Elvie Trainer priced at $199.99. Considering the customer feedback regarding the technology glitches associated with the Elvie Trainer, there is a very large gap between the two when it comes to value for money too.
Weak or overstretched pelvic floor muscles can affect women’s lives in several disrupting ways including pelvic organ prolapse, urine & fecal incontinence, less vaginal & sexual sensations, as well as fewer orgasms. To improve quality of life, female health experts recommend Kegel weights, or pelvic trainers, to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve support for the pelvic organs.
That said, not all Kegel weights and pelvic trainers are as effective as promised, and not all pelvic floor issues can be fixed with Kegel weights, so it is advisable to speak with a health practitioner or pelvic health physical therapist to ensure the pelvic trainer you choose is right for you.
Physiopedia – Pelvic Floor Dysfunction - https://www.physio-pedia.com/Pelvic_Floor_Dysfunction
Cleveland Clinic – Pelvic Floor Muscles - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22729-pelvic-floor-muscles
National Association for Continence – Kegel Exercises - https://nafc.org/kegel-exercises/
American Pregnancy Association – Kegel Exercises After Birth - https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/labor-and-birth/kegel-exercises/
North American Menopause Society – Yoga, Kegel Exercises, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy - https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/effective-treatments-for-sexual-problems/yoga-kegel-exercises-pelvic-floor-physical-therapy
Cochrane Library - Weighted vaginal cones for urinary incontinence - https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002114.pub2/full