It may surprise you — or not, if you’ve ever been a victim of accidental pee leakage — that pelvic floor disorders are very common. According to the National Institute of Health, they affect as many as 24 percent of U.S. women (and less commonly, men) as young as 20 years old. The symptoms are easily ignored and mistaken as an “it happens” situation, but treatment can be as simple and effective as a 10-minute workout.
Exercising your pelvic floor is important, because like the muscles in the rest of your body, these need to be worked out consistently so that they thrive. Don’t save focusing on these muscles for those “crucial” moments, like when you need to hold your bladder during the last minutes of a Beyoncé concert.
They’re also the same muscles you use during intercourse (and when women ejaculate). So often, when women experience pain during sex or have trouble experiencing orgasm, the pelvic floor is to blame. Other symptoms that may occur are incontinence, back pain, constipation, and more.
Created by Tania Boler and Alexander Asseily — and used by fitness queen, Khloe Kardashian — Elvie is an insertable Kegels trainer that communicates with an app on your phone to guide you through the process of biofeedback. The best part? The real time feedback you get is all from the comfort of your own home.
Boler decided to create this product after experiencing changes in her body after childbirth. Pelvic floor disorders can occur due to childbirth, traumatic injury, age, or simply genetics. “As I researched and talked to experts, I realized that there hasn't been much innovation at all,” Boler explains.
“Giving women real-time biofeedback is shown to be the most reliable way to encourage commitment and improve outcomes of pelvic floor muscle training, but this technology existed almost exclusively in hospitals.”
Biofeedback is a type of physical therapy that works by helping you and your body gain more awareness of its functions. Kegel instructions can be readily found online, but most people find it nearly impossible to notice progress in real time — or even if they’re doing it correctly. That’s where toys like Elvie can help.
I’d heard of Kegel balls before (metal or silicone balls inserted into the vagina to give the muscles something to grab onto), but never a trainer that would give me instant feedback, so I was instantly intrigued and decided to give the trainer a whirl.
My first impression of the Elvie trainer was that the packaging was sleek and beautiful, and the charging case the trainer came in was equally gorgeous. The trainer is made of silicone and slips right in like a tampon with a little tail sticking out. It also looks similar to the award-winning We-Vibe vibrator that Khloe Kardashian endorses.
It was very comfortable, and though I could definitely feel the trainer at all times, it never became painful. The app connects to the trainer using Bluetooth and then walks you through a series of exercises that essentially look like fun mobile games in which you try to hit targets and jump over lines using your Kegel muscles.
I found the instructions simple to follow and honestly quite fun! Having only ever tried Kegels without any kind of tool, it was really educational to watch what effect I was actually having when flexing my pelvic floor muscles. I loved that it gave me such instant feedback. The app also prompted me to try the movement with my hand before inserting the trainer so I could visualize what was happening inside.
The trainer also gives you detailed tips on how to better your performance. For example, I was pushing down more than pulling up and it told me that pulling up would better strengthen my muscles to avoid future incontinence.
Elvie also tracks your progress over time and sets up a workout made just for you with four levels, from training to advanced. My personal workout plan includes three workouts a week with each one lasting roughly 10 minutes. This is perfect for those who don’t have time or energy to devote to long physical therapy sessions.
The Elvie trainer is absolutely fantastic, but can be a little pricey as it retails for $199. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, the A&E Intimate Pleasures Kegel Set contains four different-sized balls for Kegel workouts and retails on Amazon for $24.43.
If you specifically want the training aspect of Elvie, the app “myKegel” will walk you through a Kegels workout as well as remind you to work out and track your progress over time. This app is only $3.99 and though it can’t tell you exactly how your muscles are responding, it’s a great, more affordable alternative to the Elvie trainer.
Even if you don’t have a pelvic floor disorder, you can certainly benefit from Kegel exercises. Strengthening these essential muscles can not only help you avoid incontinence and bowel issues, but can also lead to more fulfilling and deeper orgasms and reduce pain during sex.
So set your daily alarm, grab a workout trainer, and get training!
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Hannah Rimm is a writer, photographer, and generally creative person in New York City. She writes primarily about mental and sexual health and her writing and photography has appeared in Allure, HelloFlo, and Autostraddle. You can find her work at HannahRimm.com or follow her on Instagram.