If you’re a woman, especially a woman who has given birth, you are probably very aware of your pelvic floor, otherwise known as your kegel muscles (named after American gynaecologist Arnold Kegel). This is the muscle system in your groin and bowel area that allow you to do things like hold in a wee when you’re busting, give you the ability to push out a baby, and that can tighten and contract during sex and orgasms (with the other muscles in the area) to give you stronger, and more pleasurable sensations from them.
As we grow older parts of our bodies also start to age and we need to look after them so they can continue doing the job they were designed for, and the pelvic floor is no exception. For too many years women have just accepted this and have resigned themselves to believing that after a certain period in their life they will be reliant on the politely named LBL (light ladder leakage) pads, and will never be able to jump on a trampoline or sneeze safely ever again. But in most cases there are ways to fix and strengthen that area without too much effort at all.
I say in most cases because there are certain things, like prolapses, that need far more intervention and medical help, but for the pretty standard “I gave birth and now I wee when I cough” issues there is help and relief, and it’s often not too expensive at all.
Do The Squeeze
The most simple and inexpensive way to start strengthening the area is to just do the squeeze and hold. You can do this anywhere, any time, and begin at any age. You don’t need anything but your own body, and a bit of alone time because it’s good to concentrate.
Sit up straight or lie on your back with your knees up and breath in and out nice and deeply. With every breath out squeeze those muscles you use to hold in a wee (and also try and get the back ones around the anus too) hold for the time you breath out and, as you breath in, release. As you get better and more used to it, try and hold the squeeze for a couple of in/outs (don’t hold your breath) and see how long and hard you can hold for. Like I said, these can be done anywhere and any time. Stuck in traffic? Pelvic Floor Exercises! Watching TV? Pelvic Floor Exercises! Waiting for a friend at the coffee shop? Pelvic Floor Exercises!!
In most cases, and for women who don’t need a lot of extra help there, you will start to notice a difference in things like how strong your orgasms are, and your partners may start to comment on how much “tighter” you’re feeling during PIV sex. Most professionals say about five minutes a day for 12 weeks will make all the difference in the world.
Balls and Eggs and Inserts, Oh My!
The next step in strengthening, although some people use this as the first step, is to use balls or eggs to help the process. This is a way of not only being able to physically feel what’s happening down there, but can also be part of sexual play and pleasure. The products come in either single balls or single egg shaped items, or double balled (looking a bit like a figure 8 or a snowman) shaped. They’re usually made of glass, metal or silicone, and come in a variety of weights. The weight thing is super important and I’ll get to that in a bit, but for beginners and those with weak pelvic floor the bigger and lighter the item the better it will be for you.
Go into an adult shop and talk to the staff, but I will go ahead now and recommend you buy a kit that has interchangeable weights and sizes because you can get basically the entire system you’ll need in one go. They start bigger and lighter and gradually move down to smaller and heavier. The process of doing the squeeze and hold is still the same, but this time you have something to squeeze around and, if you stand or move while wearing them, your body and pelvic floor will react and try to hold them in. If you can’t, if you feel them slipping out or it’s just too exhausting to hold them in, then you’re using too heavy a weight and I’d recommend going back to a lighter one. While yes, you should be able to feel that you’re working the muscles, it shouldn’t get to the point of pain or discomfort or stress. Again, like with the squeezing, just a few minutes a day for around 12 weeks and you should notice a marked difference from when you started (yes, it’s okay to try the super heavy one at first just for a minute so you can use it as a point of reference later).
Eva Recommends: Silicone: Nova Pelvic Floor Exerciser Set by Svakom, Je Joue Ami Kegel Set, Jopen Weighted Ball Sets (various sizes)
Glass: CRYSTAL Premium Glass Eggs, Adam and Eve Glass Ben-Wah Balls
Metal: Nalone Yany Set
The Buzz About Squeezing
As with everything these days, there is always a tech-heavy version of anything you want or need and sex toys and kegel exercisers have jumped on that bandwagon with gusto. Not only can you buy vibrating eggs and balls for pleasure and arousal, you can also buy ones that have been specifically designed for kegel strengthening and that allow you to keep track of your progress with smartphone apps and downloadable records. These are pretty cool, even without the apps attached, and they work by having inbuilt sensors that only turn on when they feel pressure. So basically you insert the product and it’s just like any other kegel ball, but when you deliberately squeeze around it, you trigger the sensor and it begins to vibrate. It is the ultimate way in managing your strength and longevity of squeezes. A few of the smartphone connected apps will have a range of different programs to use, with one of my favourites also having a little animated bird that flies off the ground when you’re squeezing, and the longer and harder you squeeze, the longer and higher the bird flies. It can be fun and silly to play with, but is definitely a great way to keep track of your progress and gauge how far you’ve come.
Eva Recommends: G-Balls 2 (they are the ones with the birdy app), Bloom Weighted Kegel Balls by We-Vibe (comes with tracking app), and the Swan Clutch (no need for apps, just squeezing)
Professional Help Is Best
Always talk to your doctor or health professional if you feel like there is more of a problem than just some loose muscles and a little light bladder leakage. There are some serious vaginal wall and pelvic floor muscles problems that can happen after birth or operations like hysterectomies where they remove the cervix, so if you’re unsure about whether balls will help, please talk to your doctor. Also have a chat to the professionals in the adult shops, they know their stuff when it comes to vaginas and, with a few quick questions, can help you work out the best system for your needs. Set yourself a challenge or two as well. That’s a great way to keep motivated to do it. For example I made a deal with myself after the birth of my daughter that I would strengthen them up to the point where I could use the smallest, heaviest balls and do ten naked squats without them falling out… It took a while, and I already had a pretty strong pelvic floor… But I can do it now. Even after a recent full hysterectomy… So there is hope and there is improvement. It just takes a little bit of time, and a little bit of patience.
As I know this will come up in the comments, I’m going to field it off here. Please be aware of the materials these items are made of because a lot of the ones making headlines these days are not safe, and making news for all the wrong reasons.
Products made out of jade or crystals, no matter what kind of woo bullshit someone tries to sell you about your “chakras” or “sacred female energy” or any other spiritual clap-trap, are NOT HEALTHY FOR YOUR VAGINA. They just aren’t.
Most minerals and crystals like this are porous and will harbour all sorts of nasty germs and mould inside them and, let me tell you, if there’s one thing that will fuck up your “sexy vagina aura” its getting bacterial vaginosis and mould infections from a dodgy jade egg… So please, back away from Gwenyth Paltrow and that chick you know from high school that posts all the David Avocado memes, and listen to your friendly neighbourhood sexpert. There are some absolutely gorgeously designed glass eggs out there if you want something pretty to look at, and these won’t damage your vag or your chakra.
If you are the sort of person who believes in crystal energy or whatever, that’s great, good for you, I don’t want to rain on your parade, but please, for the love of all things healthy, keep it outside of your body and pop it on the mantelpiece instead.