Kegel balls, or Ben Wa balls, have been used for centuries to strengthen vaginal and pelvic floor muscles. The small, weighted balls come in a variety of different weights and sizes to help you contract and release different muscles with ease.

But Kegel balls do more than just whip your pelvic floor into shape. They’re better known for enhancing sexual pleasure — so much so that they’re also called orgasm balls, Venus balls, jiggle balls, geisha balls, love balls, and pleasure balls.

And thanks to shoutouts on “Broad City” and “50 Shades,” Kegel balls have seen a resurgence in popularity as more people begin to explore their many wonderful — and intimate — uses.

If you have a pair and aren’t sure where to start, or if you’re unsure of what to buy, read on. We’ll walk you through how to choose the right pair and what to do after you get them home.

As with any exercise, Kegels come with a few risks, including:

  • overexertion
  • tearing
  • pain or discomfort

The same goes for using Kegel balls. The easiest way to minimize your risk is to ensure that you’re using the correct size, weight, and technique.

Although reading over the product’s packaging is a great place to start, you should also check in with your doctor. They can offer advice tailored specifically to your needs.

You should also check in with your doctor before use if you:

  • are pregnant or recovering from childbirth
  • have existing pelvic pain or an active pelvic infection
  • are recovering from gynecological surgery
  • have an intrauterine device
  • use a menstrual cup

You’re more likely to experience pain and discomfort if you use Kegel balls in any of these conditions. If you still want to try Kegel balls, check with your doctor first.

If you have a pair of Kegel balls but aren’t sure what to do with them, you’re in the right place.

To get your Kegel balls ready for use, you should:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap.
  2. Wash your Kegel balls with warm water and antibacterial soap, and then dry them off with a clean towel.
  3. Rub a generous amount of water-based lube on the balls so they’re easy to insert.

Now that you’ve prepared your Kegel balls, the real fun can begin.

Make sure you apply a liberal amount of lube to your vaginal opening before you get into position. This will help prevent discomfort as you guide the Kegel balls in.

After you’re lubed up, you should:

  1. Lie down in a comfortable position (spread eagle is often best).
  2. Slowly and steadily insert the first ball.
  3. Kegel balls are usually connected to each other by a small piece of string or plastic, so slip that inside your vagina as well.
  4. Once the string is tucked in, gently start to insert the second ball into your vagina.
  5. Push the balls into your vagina as far as you’re comfortable with. If your balls have a removal string or loop, it should hang outside of your vagina, so make sure it’s not accidentally tucked in with the rest of the balls.
  6. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles to hold your Kegel balls inside of you, and go about your day.

The balls should feel secure inside your vaginal canal. If you feel like they’re about to fall out — or the first ball is visible outside of your vaginal opening —gently push them deeper into your vagina.

How you feel with the balls inside varies from person to person, but it’s generally a subtle, tingly sensation. This feeling usually intensifies with movement, like walking, bending down, or reaching up.

Pro-tipOnce you’re comfortable with connected Kegel balls, you can take things up a notch by investing in a set of individual Kegel balls (sans string). Although the method of insertion is the same, you should never push them farther back than you can comfortably push or pull out.

What you do after you insert your Kegel balls depends on why you’re using them.

If you want to strengthen your pelvic floor, targeted exercises will help you identify and tone your muscles.

If you want to experiment, you’ll focus less on exercise and more on individual sexploration.

For pelvic exercise only

Once you’re comfortable with traditional Kegels or other pelvic floor exercises, consider adding weighted Kegel balls. They can enhance your workout by adding an extra challenge.

If you want to add Kegel balls to your routine, you should:

  1. Lie on your back and insert the balls. Make sure everything’s lubed up.
  2. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles to lift and squeeze the balls.
  3. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds, then relax for another 5 seconds.
  4. Repeat this step 5 times in a row to complete one set.

You can perform up to three sets a day.

For solo sexual pleasure

Kegel balls typically aren’t used in the same way as traditional sex toys.

Although moving them in and out of your vagina is definitely an option, you may find that it’s more intense to leave them inside.

They’ll enhance the sensation of whatever you’re doing, whether that’s rubbing your clitoris or exploring your erogenous zones.

Need some ideas? Here are two ways you can incorporate Kegel balls to intensify solo play:

  • While lying in bed, put your Kegel balls inside your vagina, and start to squeeze your pelvic muscles. As you become more aroused and self-lubricated, begin to explore your body.
  • Insert your Kegel balls, and then grab your favorite vibrator. As you squeeze, rub your vibrator on your clitoris and around your vaginal opening.

For partner play

If you want to increase your sensitivity during vaginal sex, Kegel balls can help you and your partner heat things up.

You can insert them before you head out on your date (a la Anastasia Steele) or make insertion the first part of an intense round of foreplay. The longer the balls are in, the more aroused you’ll be when it’s time for the main event.

Just make sure to pull the balls out before your partner — or another toy — slides in.

Pro-tipIf you’re comfortable using Kegel balls on your own, you can heat things up with your partner by leaving them in during vaginal penetration. Your partner’s penis or dildo will move the balls around, creating intense sensations for you. Keeping the thrusts slow and steady will help prevent discomfort.

Kegel balls can also make anal sex more pleasurable. Anal penetration can push the balls against your G-spot, sending intense sensations throughout your body.

Although it may be tempting, you should never insert Kegel balls into your anus. They aren’t made for this purpose and could cause discomfort. They’re also more likely to get stuck in this location.

Beads specifically made for anal play are available, though. You should be able to find these at a sex shop or via online retailers.

You can leave Kegel balls in for up to six hours, depending on the balls used and your individual body chemistry. Your doctor can tell you more about best practices for you and your body.

If your Kegel balls have a removal string or loop, you should:

  1. Lay down in a comfortable position.
  2. Add more lube to your vaginal opening.
  3. Slowly pull on the removal string until they slide out.

If your balls are separated, you should:

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart.
  2. Slightly bend your knees until you’re in a comfortable squat.
  3. Squeeze your vaginal muscles to push them out, much like with another sex toy or even a tampon.

If the balls don’t come out right away, try to remain calm. You may be able to coax them out by adding more lube. You can also cough, move around, or even jump up and down to help your muscles contract and release.

Keeping your Kegels balls clean is crucial. If they aren’t cleaned and stored correctly, they can introduce bacteria into your vagina that could lead to infection.

After you remove your Kegel balls, you should:

  1. Run them under warm water.
  2. Thoroughly clean them with antibacterial hand soap.
  3. Rinse them in warm soapy water, and then run them under water to wash off excess residue.
  4. Pat them dry with a clean towel. You may want to let them air dry for an hour or two to ensure that they’re completely dry before you put them away.
  5. Once they’re dry, store them in a case of their own.

Although Kegel balls are generally considered safe to use, there are few things you should keep in mind.

You should only squeeze for about 5 seconds at a time, with breaks of at least 5 seconds between. Squeezing for too long or without a break could overexert your vaginal muscles and cause a temporary strain.

You shouldn’t keep in your Kegel balls in for more than four to six hours at a time. Any longer and you may begin to overexert your pelvic floor muscles.

You should also clean your Kegel balls before and after every use. Using contaminated Kegel balls can result in infection.

Discontinue use and see your doctor if you begin to experience:

  • severe pain or discomfort
  • unusual discharge
  • unusual odor

If you’re new to Kegel balls, start with lightweight plastic or silicone set. Make sure the balls are attached and have a removal string.

Although some sets contain three or more, two is the standard. You should always start with two and increase or decrease the number as you become more familiar with the practice.

Once you’re comfortable, you can take things to the next level by swapping:

  • larger balls for smaller balls
  • lighter materials, like plastic or silicone, for something heavier, like metal or glass
  • connected sets for individual balls

Try switching up one element — like size — to start. You can continue to add new elements in as you progress in you practice.

If you want to buy a set of Kegel balls, it may be time to pay your local sex shop a visit. Seeing the products in person can also help you get a clear understanding of size and weight.

You can also get recommendations from a sales associate. Not only can they tell you about what’s popular, they can explain how each product is used and whether you’ll need anything additional, like lube, to use it.

If you’re unable to visit a brick-and-mortar store, you can still shop online. Many retailers, like Babeland, have web-based shops that ship across the country. Amazon also sells a variety of Kegel balls, including the cult-favorite Lelo Luna Beads.