Every day, whether intentionally at the gym, or just doing chores around the house, our arm, leg and back muscles get a good workout. But one set of muscles, located in the pelvic floor, never get the attention that they deserve, given their importance to the proper functioning of four organs: the bladder, uterus, vagina and bowels. Like any other muscle that’s neglected, they weaken with age, or often following childbirth, resulting in urinary leakage and, in more severe cases, pelvic organ prolapse.
Doing Kegel exercises, which involve contracting then relaxing the pelvic floor, can help strengthen this important muscle group. But many women have trouble doing this exercise correctly because it can be challenging to identify and isolate the right muscle. That’s where a handy Kegel tool called Luna Beads can help.
“The idea of using a pelvic floor exercise tool is it gives you something more objective to measure your strength, said Dr. Barb Dupree,a gynecologist specializing in menopause care and founder of MiddleSexMD.com, a fantastic website about women’s sexual health. “If you flex your bicep with an empty hand, it’s hard to know how strong it is. When you pick up a 10 or 20 pound weight, you can better understand just how much strength you have in those muscles, and by doing more resistance with the muscle, its going to get stronger.
“That’s the concept of a pelvic floor exercise tool,” Dr. Barb added. “By placing a weighted bead in the vagina, you have to engage those muscles to retain it. It’s a better, objective way to identify, isolate and use the pelvic floor.”
Each set of LUNA beads consists of a silicone harness and four weighted beads: two pink 28 gram beads and two blue 37-gram beads offering four different gradations of weight when when worn individually or combined. You can start with one ball for the lightest weight, and mix and match to create incrementally more weight until you can insert the two heaviest into the vagina at once. (The package includes a cradle that holds two balls). Like any other workout routine, you start at the beginning and work up to a level that you feel works the muscles.
“You can pop them in and fold your laundry, run to the grocery store and it will keep those muscles engaged while they’re in,” said Dr. Barb. “On the other hand, if you have really weak pelvic floor muscles, you may not be able to stand up and keep them in if you don’t have enough strength to retain them.”
But Dr. Barb added that you can certainly do Kegel exercises without a vaginal tool.
“Even with no weights, if you clench your pelvic floor and contract and hold it for 15 seconds, and you do that 10 times, you can tell at the end that muscle is quivering more, you’re not able to hold that contraction quite as tightly. So I tell women to do a set of ten contractions, three times a day. Then over time, hold it longer and do more reps.
For more information about Luna Beads, or to purchase them (and other sexual health products), visit MiddleSexMD.com.