You may have exercised your biceps, thighs and abs during your last gym session, but you could be missing out on one very important muscle group -- your pelvic muscles. Okay, so there's no gym machine to give you better control over your pelvic floor, but you can use a weighted pelvic exerciser from the comfort of your home. This type of workout can help reduce stress incontinence and might even give you a better experience in bed.
Select the type of exerciser that most appeals to you. They come in two different models. The first are known as Ben Wa balls, and they come in a set of weighted balls in successive sizes. Another type looks like successively larger balls connected on one small rod. Choose the one you feel most comfortable using.
Find a comfortable position. To start, you may want to lie down. First, test out your pelvic floor muscles. You're going to need to squeeze them independently of the rest of your body to use the exerciser. If you have experience doing Kegels, do a few to warm up. If you've never done Kegels, try contracting the muscles you'd use to stop urine flow while keeping the muscles in your buttocks and abs relaxed.
Start with the smallest size ball, or, if you're using a rod construction, the smallest end of the rod exerciser. Insert the ball or the rod into the vagina, like a tampon. You might find it easier to do this standing up, while others might prefer lying down. If you feel discomfort, try adding a little water-based lubricant to the exerciser first.
Engage your pelvic floor muscles by doing a Kegel. You should feel pressure on the vagina while the ball or rod is engaged. The trick is to actually hold the exerciser in your body using the squeezing of those muscles, so try getting up and walking around -- just don't leave the house because the exerciser could fall out.
Wear the exerciser for as long as you can. At first, it might not even be a full minute before your pelvic floor muscles get fatigued. Over time, they'll get stronger. When you can wear the exerciser for around 15 minutes, try wearing the next size up for a new challenge.
Remove a ball-type exerciser by releasing the pelvic floor muscles and bearing down. If you use a rod-based exerciser, it should easily slip out. Complete your workout once per day.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Pelvic Floor Muscle Training Exercises
- Advanced Sexual Techniques; Linda Banner; page 105
- Always read manufacturer warnings and directions before using an exercise product like this.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.