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Beyond Kegels: A more (ahem) expansive look at pelvic health therapies

When you think about pelvic health (come on, you’re reading this site, aren’t you?) you probably think about Kegels. There’s a good reason for that. These exercises, named for the gynecologist who developed them, have helped numerous women by improving the strength of their pelvic floor—so much so, in fact, that Kegels have become synonymous with the concept of pelvic health. That’s where we get into some trouble. We’ll explain, but if you haven’t already read it, you might want to start with Get to know your pelvis.

Kegels versus pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT)

All Kegels are a kind of pelvic floor muscle training, but not all PFMT is Kegels. Kegels are designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, which is helpful if your pelvis health issue has to do with weakness. For other issues (say, with coordination or tension, or with bladder control), you’ll need a different  focus to you PFMT. Kegels may well be part of your PFMT regimen, but they probably won’t be the entirety of it.  

You see, the problem with Kegels isn’t a problem with Kegels at all. It’s that people have come to equate pelvic strength with pelvic health and this misunderstanding can be dangerous. Take, as an example, one of the more common pelvic health complaints: pain during intercourse. Frequently, this issues goes hand in hand with tense or overactive muscles in the pelvis. A recommendation to try Kegels (repeated muscular contractions with the goal of strengthening) would actually exacerbate this condition.  This is why the very first order of business is a pelvic health assessment.

We know. Seriously, we know. Nobody likes being assessed, especially in their pelvis. We really should not forego this step (it’s how we determine the best treatment plan) but at Corelife we make sure it’s a low-stress, low-key affair.

Adjunct therapies

“Adjunct” is just another way of saying additional. While pelvic floor muscle training is likely going to be part of getting your pelvic health in order (the science is clear it needs to be a part of it), it may not be the entire plan. This is where we wanted to tell you about some of the other things we can offer, depending on your needs.

1. Vaginal weights, cones, or “Jade eggs”

Working with similar principles as Kegel balls (also known as Ben Wa balls), these devices are held inside the vagina with the intention of strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.

2. Electrical muscle stimulation

The idea here is to use very low-grade electrical stimulation, rather than weights or exercises alone, to help you strengthen your pelvic floor. This treatment used to be available only at the doctor’s office but technological advances have made it more portable and much more DIY. Some products, like the Elvie Trainer, have an insertable device that communicates with your smartphone, putting 100% of the process literally in the palm of your hand.

3. Vaginal lasers

This treatment uses low-level laser stimulation to develop collagen which adds plumpness and rejuvenates tissue.

4. Incontinence pessary

A pessary is simply a silicone device that’s inserted into the vagina, in this case, to prevent incontinence. Pessaries be fitted to you personally by a doctor or purchased as semi-disposable or disposable products.

5. Libby chair

One of the most innovative technologies around, the Libby is a non-invasive, accessible device that uses electromagnetic stimulation to develop the fitness capacity of the pelvic floor. Users sit in the chair, fully clothed, during their treatment. Nothing is inserted, and the only sensation is a mild tingling. Early scientific trials suggest that Libby treatments are effective in treating the full array of pelvic health issues from stopping leaking to improving sex.

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