Text and photo by: Tatyana Tsoy, obstetrician-gynecologist
Let us continue talking about pelvic floor muscles. In this part we are going to make a review of exercise machines and compare them. Click here to read part I.
These are vaginal balls with shifted center of gravity to please your eye and hands.
So colorful, they look like candies. Nice to touch. Unlike other balls, they differ in weight, not in size. This fact can be either an advantage or a disadvantage. They are likely to fall out in women with a deep and wide vagina, however, girls with constricted muscles will enjoy easier introduction.
They are made of silicone, easy to clean with water or specially manufactured cleaner. The manufacturer’s recommendation includes putting the balls in and going in for your usual activities (household, work, walking). Off-center of gravity balls induce your muscles’ contraction by reflex-this is the principle of training.
Sounds fine, but what happens in practice?
The first and the core thing, I would not recommend women with problematic pelvic floor using these balls (regardless of the problem that can be either weak or constricted muscles, frequently these two problems are both present).
By nature, vagina is not supposed to carry things in. Consequently, PFMs are not meant to hold things within, our muscles have enough trouble due to walking straight. Long carrying of balls may cause pelvic floor weakness grow even worse (it is similar to place a dumbbell into a broken arm). These muscles give no biological feedback and an unskilled woman will find it difficult to estimate whether she is doing it correctly at the moment of training and whether exercises are effective. Additionally, women may have it hard to define the right weight to start the practice, the manufacturer's recommendations may not fit the particular woman.
Balls are recommended to strengthen PFMs. Warning! You must do training as you lie in bed starting at the minimum weight-this method minimizes the likelihood of damaging your muscles and lets your muscles get used to workload. No need to push the balls deep into vagina: not more than 2 cm deep inside while using two balls, and using one ball, do not push it more than one phalanx deep.
I would recommend these balls to women who wish to increase sensitivity and whose PFMs are generally ok. Stimulation with balls improves blood supply-the fact that pushes sensitivity up, the off-center gravity balls make you feel different as compared to your usual sensations and this helps to support the vagina-brain connection.
A smart exercise machine with feedback available. It is quite small, light, nice to touch and can be cleaned with no problem.
The application is easy to set up while the interface is clear and user-friendly. There is a complete user's guide explaining everything fr om pairing the exercise machine with the computer to proceeding to exercise.
It has vibration. You can make use of it during trainings or use the machine as a sex toy. Vibration can be switched off (I personally found it distracting during sessions).
How it works
The sensor responds to muscle contraction, a little bird takes off joyfully on your screen, a female voice tells you what to do.
The program keeps track of your performance:
– contraction at the start (pre-exercise muscle resilience);
– spring force;
– endurance (capability to contract muscles for long periods)
– control (capability to control your PFMs deliberately).
Training after training, you can notice these data change. Regular training lets your little tree grow on the display-such a nice image to reflect the dynamics.
Points to consider
At times, the sensor can fail to respond to contraction, for two reasons: due to weak muscles or if the device leaves its correct position by falling down deeper into vagina (as in my case). With this latter problem, contractions go on but the sensor is unable to detect them. You have to hold the tail to control it, rather uncomfortably, putting additional stress on the front abdominal wall, hips and sometimes glutes-this affects the correct training technique but cannot be displayed on the screen to warn you of the fact.
The woman herself is not able to detect what sort of problem she faces: whether it is low durability of her PFMs or the sensor just slipped deeper than needed.
As contractions of your abs, glutes and hips cannot be detected, it is impossible to make sure of the correct performance. Unless the woman has previously been taught how to do it correctly, she is likely to have difficulties with realizing these nuances. The correct training of PFMs, particularly, cannot be therefore guaranteed.
There is some gambling about lifting the bird and making the tree grow, and I like it. However, this competition may make you get distracted, forget about the correct training technique and contract any muscle of our body, including your orbicularis oculi.
The application is the same as that of Gballs, so no need to describe it again.
As for the specific features during exercise, they are the same as with the previous device. Despite the curled tail, Magic Kegel slips down inside the vagina leaving its correct position (right above the PFMs) and causes the sort of problems mentioned above.
I am going to describe the difference between this device and Elvie, the British one, in the review of the latter further in the article.
A blue thick little thing from USA, the biggest one in size and, to my mind, the least attractive esthetically among the exercise machines presented in this review, however, it is nice to touch.
Not very much bath-friendly, you should take care while washing it due to its cuff, avoid pouring water on the inflate/deflate button.
The main part and the stopper-petal can vibrate, you can switch the vibration off in both or any of the two parts.
The combination of the cuff and the device's sensitivity to click makes the main part act as a sort of pneumatic sensor while the outside part helps to fix Kgoal on its right place (it won't slip inwards). We can therefore get more precise feedback about muscle performance, but abs, glutes and hips are left out of control.
Narrow and/or constricted vagina may be a problem during insertion of the device (it is big and the head of the dip part is tough and its diameter cannot be changed). In theory, a lot of lube and slow careful insertion along with correct breathing technique can be a solution as the latter contributes to muscle relaxation. Not everyone knows exactly how to get relaxed, there are women who have had traumatic childbearing, have undergone some surgery on their vagina and women with atrophy- mostly postmenopausal women-in these cases any attempt to ins ert the device will cause discomfort and/or pain no matter how many methods they try, since the constriction has been caused by structural problems and not by a spasm.
Again, the fully-inflated cuff inside a narrow vagina can be considered by the sensor as an intense muscle contraction that is certainly not true.
In women with highly sensitive vulva and clitoris the petal can be a problem causing some discomfort and hampering the smooth training and taking pleasure out of the process.
The application is more functional. To estimate training effectiveness, the indexes of strength, durability and control are monitored. As for the number of training programmes, they are five. Each training targets a specific index:
It is enough to contract your PFMs and the slider moves on to hit the ball or break the blocks.
Repeat the pattern
There are geometrical patterns that vary in size and shape (square, rectangle, rhombus, circle, oval). Your task is to let them pass through a gate by opening and closing it and repeating their contours.
This exercise aims at developing control over contraction and relaxation of your PFMs.
Following the guidelines on your smart phone screen, you are to work on contraction strength, relaxation, keeping tension and controlled contraction.
Playing pinball using your pelvic floor muscles.
Adjustable training (it is up to you to sel ect configuration for training)
The application is not esthetically as good as that with a little bird and a tree, this one is more about graphs.
I can’t say this machine is meant exclusively for women who have given birth or women with spacious vagina. Some preparation may contribute to comfortable insertion but it will take some time to develop this skill-factor that is likely to affect motivation for training.
A very elegant, mint-colored British device. Co-produced with physical therapists from Imperial College and University of Oxford. Among its equipment, it has a contraction sensor, an accelerometer and a gyroscope.
Totally vibration-free. 100% waterproof. Includes an extending silicone nozzle.
Bluetooth is activated once you take the device out of the case that also serves as a charger.
Drop-like shape and small size will contribute to easier insertion. Elvie gives no false data about initial muscle tension as in the case with Kgoal. The tail is harder than that of Magic Kegel Rejuve. Additionally, it provides better fixation on the right place, still slipping is probable. At times, if placed incorrectly, it may slip outward. No slipping inward in my case, in fact I registered no slipping from PFMs at all.
The application, apart from basic functions to estimate strength, control and durability is focused also on speed and supporting core muscles (a complex of stabilization muscles aimed at keeping body balance and maintaining body position. To my mind, this application is esthetically more pleasant.
Elvie is the only one who detected tension of my abs and communicated that I was trying to push the device out instead of training PFMs exclusively (say thanks to accelerometer and gyroscope). This is an important and useful circumstance because it is the problem of pushing that puts additional load on pelvic floor and is certainly not recommended during training, especially with weak muscles.
Monitors the contraction's intensity.
You are to hold the pearl above the line. In this exercise core muscles are to be trained. Note that you won't be able to be effective without proper breathing technique, you will just contract everything but those muscles you really need to train. In this case, the efficiency will be low.
You are to contract your muscles in a way to send the pearl to inside the circles. It is similar to what you do in a shooting gallery, this time designed for PFMs. This option aims at working on your muscles' flexibility and the PFMs-brain connection.
The task is to retain the pearl within the circle for a certain period of time using static tension
Contracting your PFMs, you let the pearl break the balls. The faster you contract your muscles, the more balls will be broken.
You are to control the pearl's motion using deliberate contraction of your muscles. This exercise aims at improving control over your muscles.
Cannot be referred to as an exercise machine.
This device provides myostimulation. Contraction of muscles is reached by electrostimulation (its intensity varies fr om 0 to 99 and can be customized as you like).
It is not as eye-catching as the others, but it is rather elegant. Nice packaging.
Working with it I felt a bit like a robot. A drop-shaped feeler with an "aerial" (that in fact is an indicator to check the right position) and with some wires attached to it is inserted into vagina. In your hands you have the controller to select the training programme (no smartphone needed). If the feeler is fixed well, no slipping will ever happen. All you have to do is make sure of proper fixation: the electrodes should be placed along the sides. If not, the impulse will not reach pelvic floor muscles. The indicator is of great help here. Remember it should look ahead and somewhat upwards.
Immersion of the feeler in water is not allowed. Gently rinsing is recommended. The best way is to use special antibacterial solution and dry the feeler with a wipe. You should replace your feeler every six month, the manufacturer says.Programmes available
Stress-related urinary incontinence (leaks when exposed to loads)
Urge incontinence (uncontrollable leaks after a strong sudden need to urinate)
Keeping pelvic muscles strong
Anorgasmia, low libido
Chronic pelvic pain
Exposure to intense physical activity
Programmes for training with an anal feeler (doesn't not come with the device and is purchased separately)
Male urinary incontinence
These trainings differ in duration, can include a number of steps (repetitions), the type of contraction depends on how long the electric impulse is on.
Myostimulation has a larger list of contraindications:
– use of pace maker or metallic implants;
– a 12-week period after childbearing or surgery within the pelvic area;
– use of metal-containing intrauterine device;
– not allowed during pregnancy unless is recommended by your doctor;
– cervical cancer;
– not completely healed scars, wounds or other damages of vaginal mucosa;
The way it looks in practice
You are not supposed to contract your muscles.
You should ins ert the feeler, sele ct the programme as well as intensity (15-20 is my lim it as I have low tolerance for pain and high sensitivity), the electrodes will send impulses to your muscles and they contract alone. The longer the impulse is, the longer the contraction.
The frequency, duration of both impulses and pauses depends on the programme. So does the duration of the training.
Myostimulation is specially recommended to those with low or zero sensitivity (due to trauma and/or neurological disorders), to patients who are unable to control contraction of their PFMs. Tonis is therefore a nice device to train muscles in such situation.
In any other case, I would not recommend using Tonis. This device excludes deliberate muscle control and, in my opinion, does not give due attention to muscle relaxation skill, the fact that may cause long-time hypertonus and all the consequences that follow.
The device makes the work for you. I felt as if someone had manipulated my muscles and let them go, but no complete relaxation followed, I had to use a breathing technique to release tension.
As a Gestalt therapist who works with patients with sexual disorders and a gynecologist as well, I strive to raising awareness and strengthening brain-genitalia connection.
Tonis focuses on other sort of goals.
I have made an attempt to give a comprehensive picture of exercise machines, describing their pros and cons. Still, the choice is up to you. To my mind, Kgoal and Elvie are worth their money, especially the British device. However, there is no need to spend the last penny on them. You can train using more affordable devices taking all the described nuances in to account.
The editorial sexshopers.ru thanks the companies that kindly provided our expert with exercise devices for test:
We thank G-vibe brand for providing Give Geisha balls 2 and Gvibe Gballs
We thank Kazanova 69, a wholesaler, for providing Magic Kegel Rejuve
We thank Kgoal Russia for providing Kgoal
And we thank the company Pelvicmed for providing Tonis