Andrew Siegel MD 2/26/17
I do not ordinarily compose more than one blog entry per week, but Kegels Go Hollywood presented itself and is worthy of a timely discussion.
Photo below by Ivan Bandura [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
And the Oscar goes to….
Arnold Kegel MD (Gladser Studio, 1953)
“Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Fifty Shades of Darker” are not my cup of tea, although I confess to having read the first book to see what all the fuss was about. According to The New Yorker reviewer Anthony Lane, the current “Fifty Shades of Darker” movie is lacking in thrills, “unless you count the nicely polished performance from a pair of love balls.” The movie popularizes the use of Ben Wa Balls, which apparently spend most of their time settled deeply in the vagina of female character Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).
Ben Wa Balls
Included in the swag bag of high-end gifts at tonight’s Oscars is a pelvic floor training device called the “Elvie.” Manufactured in the UK, Elvie is a sophisticated wearable, egg-shaped, waterproof, flexible device inserted vaginally. Pelvic floor muscle contraction strength is measured and sent via Bluetooth to a companion mobile app on a smartphone that provides biofeedback to track progress. Five-minute workouts are designed to lift and tone the pelvic floor muscles. The app includes a game designed to keep users engaged by trying to bouncing a ball above a line by clenching their pelvic floor muscles. The carrying case also serves as a charging device. Cost is $199 (Elvie.com).
Elvie Pelvic Training Device
I have worked with the company that manufactures Elvie and recently wrote a blog for the Elvie website on the topic of “Myths about the pelvic floor.” To access, go to:
As a physician, urologist, author and pelvic floor muscle training advocate, I am quite pleased by the newfound awareness and popularity accorded pelvic floor muscle training, a highly beneficial means of improving/maintaining pelvic, sexual, urinary and bowel health–despite its popularization in Hollywood.
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training
The vagina has its own set of intrinsic muscles (within its wall), which are further layered with the pelvic floor muscles (external to the vaginal wall). An intense pelvic floor muscle workout—albeit a pleasurable one made possible through devices like Ben Wa Balls or the Elvie—accords some real advantages to the participant. A stronger and better toned pelvic floor increases vaginal blood flow, lubrication, orgasm potential and intensity, the ability to clench the vagina as well as partner pleasure, overall increasing the potential for sexual gratification. Of no less importance, a powerful pelvic floor also improves urinary and bowel control. Keeping the pelvic floor fit can prevent the onset of many sexual, urinary, bowel and other pelvic issues that may emerge with the aging process.
Love Balls 101
Motion-induced friction applied to the vaginal wall is one of the key factors leading to sexual pleasure. Ben Wa Balls provide such friction and can be thought of as erotic toys as well as medical devices that are used to train the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. When exercise can be made pleasurable—not unlike playing tennis as opposed to working out in the gym—it unquestionably provides significant advantages.
There are numerous variations in terms of Ben Wa ball size (usually one to two inches in diameter), weight, shape, composition and number of balls. Some are attached to a string, allowing tugging on the balls to add more resistance. Another type has a compressible elastic covering that can be contracted down upon. Still others vibrate. There are some upscale varieties that are carved into egg shapes from minerals such as jade and obsidian.
Ben Wall Balls are classified under the general heading of vaginal weights, devices that are placed in the vagina and require pelvic floor muscle engagement in order that they remain in position and not fall out when the user is upright, providing resistance to contract down upon.
Ben Wa balls are not unlike vaginal cones, which consist of a set of weights that are of identical shape but vary in their actual weight. Initially, one places a light cone in the vagina and stands up and walks about, allowing gravity to come into play. Pelvic floor contractions are required to prevent the cone from falling out. The intent is to retain the weighted cone for fifteen minutes twice daily to improve pelvic strength. Gradual progression to heavier cones challenges the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles to improve strength and tone. Ben Wa balls can be thought of as sexy versions of the vaginal cones.
Sophisticated Pelvic Training Devices Like Elvie
There are many pelvic resistance devices on the market—some basic and simple, like Ben Wa balls and vaginal cones—but many newer ones are a “high tech” and sophisticated means of providing resistance, biofeedback and tracking, often via Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone. More information will follow about these complex devices in future blog entries.
Bottom Line: Pelvic floor muscle training can be done with or without resistance devices like Ben Wa balls, vaginal cones, and the more sophisticated devices such as the Elvie. The use of resistance devices adds a dimension beyond what is achievable by contracting one’s pelvic muscles without resistance (against air). From a medical and exercise physiology perspective, muscles increase in strength in direct proportion to the demands placed upon them and resistance exercise is one of the most efficient ways to stimulate muscular and metabolic adaptation.
The slang term “pussy” is often used to connote “weak” and “ineffectual.” Anastasia Steele’s “vagina of steel” fashioned by using Ben Wa Balls as a vaginal resistance device clearly shows that this does not have to be the case!
Wishing you the best of health,
A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com
Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.
Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com
Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health http://www.TheKegelFix.com. This book is written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.
The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources. Enjoy!