Wellness

Superpower Your Kegels for a Healthy Pelvic Floor—and Better Sex

Superpower Your Kegels for a Healthy Pelvic Floor—and Better Sex

One hundred Kegels a day. That’s what it takes to make an enormous difference to our health and well-being, according to a study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Intentional, repetitive contractions of the pelvic floor, Kegels tone and strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and vaginal connective tissues that cradle and control the bladder and bowels. (Stop your urine flow midstream: Now you know what a Kegel is.) If a stronger bladder cradle isn’t exciting to you, consider this: A consistent Kegel practice sets the stage for better orgasms and better sex in general, according to gynecologist Carolyn Delucia, the executive medical director at the VSpot MediSpa in New York. “Having better control of those muscles allows you to contract them during intercourse, increasing friction and pleasure,” Delucia says, explaining that strengthening the pelvic floor can also make for easier childbirth and can prevent (or lessen) incontinence, along with uterine prolapse.

We’re huge fans of Kegels here at goop, and huge fans of the Elvie tracking device that makes getting to one hundred a day way easier. “It’s a wonderful little device,” Delucia enthuses. “Most women don’t know how to do Kegels correctly. They bear down, which doesn’t engage the muscles. Instead, they need to be lifting up. The Elvie teaches you how to do a Kegel correctly.”

The beautifully designed and user-friendly Kegel tracker is streamlined and pod-shaped, made of nontoxic medical-grade silicone, and slips into the vagina like a tampon. The pod connects to an app, so that as you contract and relax your pelvic floor—think of it as gentle weight lifting to tone the muscles—you can gauge your strength and even see it improving with each five-minute session.

Once it’s in, Elvie is surprisingly comfortable. The app helps turn a daily Kegel workout into something of a visual game, which is super motivating. If you’re not using an Elvie or doing Kegels regularly, Delucia says a continual yoga or Pilates practice can also help keep pelvic-floor muscles in shape; Lauren Roxburgh’s exercises are also life-changing.

The effort is worth it: Shockingly, three out of four women experience some form of incontinence in their lifetime, says Delucia. “Incontinence is mostly the consequence of compromised pelvic-floor muscles. Childbirth or no childbirth, the vaginal tissue naturally weakens over time; collagen and elasticity degrades.” In uterine prolapse, the ligaments holding the uterus in place become lax, causing the uterus to herniate into or beyond the vagina. It’s more common than one might think: 40 percent of participants in a Women’s Health Initiative trial in the US reported some degree of prolapse, according to a 2007 study.

Our modern sedentary lifestyles are largely to blame for our pelvic-floor issues. Lack of physical activity atrophies all our muscles. We’re also having larger babies because of better nutrition, and giving birth to them can cause strain. Menopause can also trigger changes. But Delucia is adamant that we can avoid most pelvic-floor issues by keeping our pelvic muscles robust with targeted exercises.

To augment work with an Elvie or any sort of Kegel practice, a new breakthrough noninvasive device called BTL Emsella rehabilitates feeble pelvic-floor muscles. It was FDA-cleated this year to prevent and treat incontinence, and it reduces the likelihood of developing prolapse. One thirty-minute session essentially performs 11,000 Kegels—correct ones—for you. You sit, fully clothed, on a chair containing a powerful magnet that conducts electromagnetic energy to stimulate the pelvic floor, for twenty-eight minutes. “The energy is focused on the ten pelvic-floor muscles, so that all contract simultaneously and evenly when you sit in the chair,” says Delucia. Emsella neither hurts nor feels especially great (the sensation is sort of like a consistent wave of vibrations; the intensity can be adjusted). “The value of Emsella is that it allows you to perform effective Kegels every time without human error or fatigue. It retrains the pelvic floor in much the way doing curls retrains your biceps,” she continues.

It would take close to sixty-two hours of doing Kegels to equal a single Emsella session, which ranges from $300 to $500, depending on where you live. A series of six sessions (two a week), plus a yearly follow-up, may sound pricey, but it comes with impressive results: In clinical studies, 67 percent of Emsella-treated patients decreased the use of hygienic pads for incontinence or eliminated them completely, while 95 percent reported significant improvement in quality of life.

The best results, Delucia says, involve combination therapy. “Incorporating the Elvie is fabulous; I think everybody should go home with one after an Emsella treatment. It’s the best way to maintain those muscles. The Elvie may make it so that you actually might not have to come back once a year.”

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies. They are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop. This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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