In a recent video, the host of Refinery 29’s series Femme Ed, Laura Willcox, learned how kegel exercises can strengthen a woman’s pelvic floor and why this is so important for many women.
“Why should a woman concern herself with strengthening her pelvic floor or doing kegels? What’s the upside here?” Willcox asked pelvic floor expert Jill Hoefs.
“A lot of women do it because either they’re leaking [urine] on themselves or because they feel like their organs are going to fall out of their body,” Hoefs replied to a shuddering Willcox.
Stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, the two conditions Hoefs described above, are relatively common and in many cases as a form of treatment women have been encouraged toward what they thought was minor surgery. But this January the FDA reclassified the transvaginal mesh devices that have been used in these surgeries as high-risk devices.
About 70,000 women are suing the manufacturers of these devices for alleged injuries such as erosion of the mesh into the vaginal tissue, organ perforation, chronic pain, infection, painful intercourse, and urinary and fecal incontinence. There are other, safer options for strengthening the pelvic floor besides transvaginal mesh.
In the video, Willcox goes where many women might fear to venture without a friend as a forerunner. She explores how technology is being used to help women make the most of their pelvic floor exercises and she does it all in a yellow sweatband and cute activewear.
Willcox tries out a kegel training device called Elvie, which is a bluetooth device that is inserted in the vagina and connects to a video game app on your phone. To play the game, a woman focuses on closing her muscles around the device, “squeezing and lifting.”
But Willcox also practices kegels the old-fashioned way after a lesson from Hoefs where she’s instructed to very gradually contract and relax her muscles, like she’s operating an elevator.
“I’m going to attempt a kegel. Now I’m going to pretend I’m in line at Trader Joe’s, but I’m riding up an elevator but also my boss just walked in and I just had a memory of my grandmother talking about sex and also I’m terrified that my bladder might fall out of my vagina in the shower some day…. Am I doing it right?” Willcox asked Hoefs.
Hoefs laughingly replied, “I think so.”
“That’s it? Well that’s easy!” said Willcox.
Source: Refinery 29