The pelvic floor plays an important role in the body’s well-being. Everyone has pelvic floor muscles which control continence (urination and bowels) and sexual function. These muscles help keep pelvic organs in place, which include the bladder, rectum, and intestines. In women, these also include the vagina, cervix, and uterus. If a woman has pelvic floor dysfunction where her muscles become too loose or weak, conditions like a female prolapse can occur.
To keep these muscles in shape, there are pelvic floor exercises women can do under the care of an expert and at home. There are also some useful devices women can use to maintain a healthy pelvic floor exercise routine. Keep reading to learn about some of the best!
Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions
According to Dr. Allyson Shrikhande, Chief Medical Officer of Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine and board-certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist, pelvic floor dysfunctions fall under two main categories:
Hypotonic pelvic floor: pelvic muscles are loose and weak.
Hypertonic pelvic floor: pelvic muscles are in spasm but also weak.
Ideally, you should get an evaluation from a pelvic floor expert to know what condition your pelvic floor muscles are in. If that type of care is unaffordable, it might be tempting to just purchase a pelvic floor device on Amazon. But try to get at least one consultation and ask your doctor if it’ll be helpful. Since pelvic floor conditions aren’t always one or the other (sometimes, certain muscles can be hypotonic and others can be hypertonic), using a device without medical guidance can make dysfunction worse.
What Weakens the Pelvic Floor?
About one in four women have some type of pelvic floor disorder. Weak, loose, or hypercontracted pelvic floor muscles can happen as a result of:
Chronic strain (constipation, heavy lifting)
Fortunately, many resources are available today for doing pelvic floor exercises at home. Women can take the lead in their pelvic floor wellness with the use of at-home practices.
Enjoy the full episode on At-Home Pelvic Floor Exercisers for more information and pelvic floor resources.
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation
If you can, always get an exam from a pelvic floor rehabilitation specialist before attempting any strengthening or relaxation exercises at home. A pelvic floor physical therapist can properly identify which exercises will be best for your health.
What is a Pelvic Floor Exerciser Device?
At-home pelvic floor devices can be worn on the body or inserted into the vagina. They encourage kegels, which are exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Remember, depending on the type of pelvic floor dysfunction you experience, the type of exercise you need to practice will vary. Pelvic floor dysfunction relaxation exercises, such as massage or myofascial release from a doctor or physical therapist, can be beneficial for those with a tight pelvic floor.
Home Biofeedback Devices for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor biofeedback devices “train” you to control the contraction and release of muscles in your pelvis. Biofeedback lets you learn how your body works with the use of direct, observable feedback. In this case, an internal sensor is placed inside the vagina and linked to an app or handheld device that guides you through different exercise routines. It lets you learn your contraction and release patterns and tracks any progress you make as you use it.
Here are some of the best biofeedback devices for pelvic floor.
Elvie is a pelvic floor training app that helps you strengthen and recover your pelvic muscles. It’s small, safe, and comfortable for women who need to work on tightening those internal muscles you can’t see.
Perifit (“pair-ee-fit”) is another pelvic muscle training app, but gamified. You can make pelvic exercises fun by playing smartphone games that challenge you to control muscles in different ways that, as a result, control the game.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Devices
Pelvic floor electrical stimulation devices send electrical signals to nerves, causing targeted muscles to contract. This is done by neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES). Women who need to strengthen and lift their pelvic floor muscles benefit from the nerve-to-muscle connection these devices provide.
Here are some electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) devices you can use for pelvic floor exercise.
The K-fit “kegel toner” connects a pelvic floor biofeedback device to an insertable EMS machine. It automatically stimulates perfect kegels and can be used in conjunction with other exercises.
The iStim V2 is another EMS kegel exercise device. Both women and men can use it to help with urine and bowel control.
Flyte was designed for women who need to strengthen their pelvic floor in order to control their bladder. It comes with an insertable wand that emits gentle electrical stimulation frequencies which help stretch fascia. The wand attaches to Flyte’s signature biofeedback unit, so you can practice the exercises at home without connecting to your smartphone.
Non-Invasive Pelvic Floor Devices
Other pelvic floor exercise options include devices that are wearable and non-invasive.
Innovo offers women a non-invasive pelvic floor and incontinence treatment. This is a wearable device inside a pair of fitted shorts that attach to a pulse controller. After 30 minutes, you’ll complete 180 kegels. It’s an FDA-approved pelvic floor device, and 87% of women experience better bladder control in 12 weeks.
Elitone is another non-invasive FDA-cleared device. You wear the Elitone like a maxi pad, and it delivers gentle electrical pulses to tone your pelvic floor muscles.
For best results, use these as your home pelvic floor exercise routine alongside medical guidance and pelvic floor therapy.
Browse the pelvic floor devices and resources recommended by featured experts.
Other Pelvic Floor Exercise Tools
As the awareness of pelvic floor issues increases today, there are a lot of alternative items on the market. Here are some that are widely available online but have no proven medical relevance when it comes to recovering from pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic Floor Exercise Weights
Pelvic floor exercise balls or pelvic floor weights claim to work pelvic muscles therapeutically. Since they’re weighted, it takes more effort to contract and release your muscles when the weights are inserted. These can be helpful in some instances but should be used only under the direction of a professional, as they can make some conditions worse.
Jade eggs or “yoni eggs” are solid, egg-shaped stones often attached to a string for vaginal insertion. They’re used similarly to weights. Some claim these have spiritual properties, but there’s no evidence that they work for strengthening the pelvic floor. Since weighted items stimulate the pelvic muscles to contract so the egg or weight doesn’t fall out, these can sometimes prolong hypertonic conditions.
While not an exercise device, a pessary is often used in patients recovering from prolapse or urinary incontinence. It’s a tool that helps manage the internal function of the vagina and pelvic floor. Pessaries are also common during postpartum care.
Pelvic-Friendly Workout Routines
Proper alignment and muscle tone also help keep the pelvic floor in shape. If you have a pelvic dysfunction, avoid strenuous activities like heavy lifting. Stick with workouts like yoga, pilates, or hypopressive exercises until your doctor or physical therapist gives the okay to do higher-impact exercises.
Want to learn about your pelvic floor? Don’t miss these Fempower Health episodes!