Everything you ever wanted to know about kegel balls, but were afraid to ask—plus, why you might want to start using them in the first place.
What Are Kegel Balls?
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By now, you probably know that kegels involve tightening then releasing the muscles in your pelvic floor (it should feel like you're stopping yourself from peeing). But have you ever used kegel balls to make these exercises even more challenging?
Kegel balls help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. They've been used for centuries, and are sometimes also referred to as Ben Wa balls. These small, circular weights are inserted into your vagina (yep, just like a tampon) and essentially make your muscles say “oh, I gotta keep these in,” which triggers them to contract.
Think of it as taking your pelvic floor muscles to the gym. You can start by using kegel balls for a few minutes each day, then increasing for longer intervals as you get stronger. (Don’t worry, kegel balls come out easily; you just need to relax your body. Most also have strings to make them easier to remove.)
Related: 3 Reasons You Should Be Doing Kegels
The Benefits of Kegel Balls
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Many women start doing kegels as a way to boost their sex life. The reason? Stronger pelvic floor muscles may lead to more intense sex, since part your pelvic floor, the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles, contract during orgasm.
While better sex is certainly a benefit, doctors emphasize that it’s not only about that—kegel balls can also help with pregnancy recovery (babies put pressure on your pelvic floor, which weakens those muscles) and especially improve bladder control.
“There are different types of urinary incontinence: urge, stress, and mixed," explains Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando. "[Kegel balls can help with] stress urinary incontinence, which is basically the inability to hold your urine with a lot of abdominal pressure—whether that is from laughter, sneezing, or coughing."
If performing regular kegel exercises hasn't been working and you're trying to avoid surgery, you may want to give kegel balls a shot, adds Dr. Greves. "Talk to your doctor about possibly adding these to your regimen to try to help with incontinence," she says.
Kegel Ball Shopping Guide
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Not sure what you should look for when shopping for kegel balls? According to Zaher Merhi, MD, director of research and development in IVF technologies at New Hope Fertility in New York City, there are a slew of different features to consider. Many of them will come down to preference: Kegel balls are usually designed as singles or doubles (doubles will give you a more challenging workout); they can be made of metal or silicone; are available in different sizes and weights, so you can find the right fit; and some even vibrate, which can boost the intensity of your session.
Below, six kegel balls and pelvic floor exercisers you should look into.
Photo: Maksymenko Nataliia/Shutterstock
Kegel Balls for Beginners
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These have an exercise band for both training with resistance and easier removal. (Win-win.) Start with a single, move to a double, and know that the silicone balls are waterproof, hypoallergenic, odor-resistant, and free of phthalates, BPA, dioxin, and latex. ($22; amazon.com)
Ben Wa Balls by Neno
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With two different metal balls with different weights, you can start with the lighter ball and work your way up to the heavier one. And silicone strings make for easier insertion and removal (though you can use them without). ($29; amazon.com)
Iusmnur Kegel Exercise Weight
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This double-ball gadget features a remote control with two vibration modes and 10 frequencies for different exercises and intensities. Made of 100% medical silicone, it’s free of phthalates, latex, BPA, or dioxin. ($25; amazon.com)
PC Muscle Exercise Kit
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Simple, easy, effective—these are the kegel balls with no extra gimmicks or additions. They come in two sizes and are made of medical stainless steel, meaning they won’t rust or corrode, and are hypoallergenic, too. ($28; amazon.com)
Beyond Desire Exercise Balls
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A little heftier than your standard Ben Wa balls, these guys are perfect for beginners and those looking to step up their kegel exercise game. ($14; amazon.com)
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If you’re not into the idea of inserting balls up there (yeah, we said it), or want to get real high-tech about exercising your pelvic floor muscles, this little gadget is one to try. It connects to an app, which shows you exactly how to flex your pelvic floor muscles, all while tracking your personal performance for maximum benefits. Many users they start to feel results within four weeks. (And if you're on the fence, we're guessing the rave reviews on Amazon will help convince you.) ($199; amazon.com)
This story originally appeared on Health.com by Samantha Leal.