Millions of women experience stress urinary incontinence, prolapses, and lack of sexual sensitivity as part of their daily lives. These are all symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, and this condition is caused most often by pregnancy and childbirth.

In the past, surgery was the recommended option, but nowadays a variety of home-use products or therapies are available. The following information will help you to find out which product or combination of products will work best for you. 

Only the following types of therapy are clinically recognised as effective. So when you want to get your pelvic floor into shape, how do you decide which of them is right for you?  We’ve put together this guide to help you.

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CONVENTIONAL PELVIC FLOOR OR KEGEL EXERCISES

The only way to make weak muscles stronger is to exercise them. The conventional way is to carry out unaided pelvic floor exercises, otherwise known as Kegel Exercises

These exercises were devised nearly 70 years ago.  They’re completely free and they’re widely taught to post-natal women.  If they were an effective solution to the problem, millions of women wouldn’t still be putting up with those symptoms.

The success rates of Kegel Exercises are very low because they’re complicated to do, and are easy to get wrong.  So, improvement in symptoms is slow or non-existent for most women.  As a result the majority abandon them, and it’s been clear for years that there’s a need for a more effective solution.

ELECTRICAL STIMULATORS

These administer a series of electrical impulses which cause your muscles to twitch and contract. They consist of a small control unit and electrodes which you either stick onto your skin, or come in the shape of an intra-vaginal or intra-anal probe which gives you the electrical impulse internally.

These types of products are most appropriate for women whose pelvic floor muscles have become so weak that they’re hardly aware of them. If you’re one of them, you can probably manage only the weakest Kegel-type contraction on your own.

Using electrical stimulators helps you to gain awareness of your pelvic floor muscles. However, if they’re used incorrectly used you may be stimulating the wrong muscles without knowing.

Electrical stimulators can improve muscle awareness, but because your muscles aren’t doing any active work, they’re of limited benefit.

Once you can manage to make voluntary contractions, you should move on to performing an active muscle workout.  This will develop optimum tone in your pelvic floor muscles, and that’s the only way you’re really going to get rid of all your symptoms.

Advantages: 

  • Electrical stimulation devices don’t need any effort on your part
  • They’re a good starting point for women with very weak muscles

Disadvantages: 

  • You’ll need to stop what you’re doing, and set aside time to use the device
  • They wake your muscles up, but they probably won’t tone you up sufficiently to resolve your symptoms.  So you’ll need to progress to an active exercise system to really build up your muscle strength
  • Improvement is quite slow and it could take several months or more to get appreciable results.

Advantages: 

  • Luxurious and stylish presentation
  • Connects to a smartphone app

Disadvantages: 

  • Expensive
  • Hard work, and as complicated to do as conventional Kegel Exercises
  • You’ll need to stop what you’re doing and set aside time to use the device
  • If you’re going to end up doing conventional Kegel exercises unaided, you might as well just get on with it and save yourself the cost of the device
  • It’s possible to contract the wrong muscles, which is wasted effort and is counterproductive

KEGEL EXERCISES USING BIOFEEDBACK TRACKERS

These devices are passive intra-vaginal Kegel exercise monitors.  The user has to carry out Kegel-type contractions, and the device sends information about the contractions to a smartphone app.  A graphic display on your phone screen lets you visualise your contractions, and the manufacturers claim that this visual feedback “educates” women to to perform Kegel pelvic floor exercises correctly.

These products are often advertised by the manufacturers as Kegel or Pelvic Floor Exercisers. However, they don’t assist you to carry out the Kegel-type contractions in any way.  In other words, they only measure your contractions while you do all of the hard work yourself (and it is pretty hard!).  Also, contracting your abdominal, buttock or thigh muscles at the same time is very easily done, but it can be completely counterproductive.  These products don’t stop you from doing that.

None of these devices has yet appeared in any published clinical trials which show that they are equal or superior to other methods of treating pelvic floor weakness.  Subjective user comments and popular magazine articles are often quoted by the makers, but independent clinical confirmation of their effectiveness is still unavailable.

VAGINAL WEIGHTED CONES

Vaginal cones consist of a set of small weighted cones which are placed in the vagina for a few minutes each day while you’re on your feet.  Because the vagina is more or less vertical when you’re standing, the shape and weight of the cone makes it tend to slip downwards.  This sensation causes a natural reflex contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, which holds the cone in place and stops it from dropping out.

You need to use the cone for 15-20 minutes twice a day, and the automatic work your muscles do during that time tones them up without you making any conscious effort.  There are several cones the same size but of different weights, and your progress through the series strengthens and tones your pelvic floor muscles gradually and very efficiently.  You can read more about this therapy here.

Clinical trials carried out by internationally renowned gynaecologists at University hospitals in London and around the world showed that this therapy resolved the symptoms of 70-90% of women.

SAFETY:  As a result of the worldwide success of this therapy, cheap copies of uncertain origin advertise themselves as pelvic floor or Kegel weights.  They are usually highly coloured, often coated in silicone, and can be a variety of shapes and sizes, and may also be spherical.

You should avoid such products and ensure that the brand you buy carries the CE Mark or is FDA approved.  Click here for more details on how to ensure you’re using a safe, licensed product.

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Advantages: 

  • Provides the full muscle workout which you need to get rid of your symptoms, while being easy and virtually effortless to use
  • You can carry on with whatever you’re doing, at home or at work, so they take almost no time to use
  • The specific way the cones work ensures that only the right muscles get exercised
  • Improvement is noticeable within days, and symptoms start to improve in as little as two weeks

Disadvantages: 

  • Vaginal cones can be very helpful for most light to moderate prolapses, but are not advised in  severe cases
  • If you suffer from severe vaginal dryness or stiffness, you may find it difficult to use vaginal cones