elvie? yes, please. (a brief follow-up)

As noted in a couple of previous posts, I’ve been reviewing different avenues of pelvic floor strengthening. I was admittedly hesitant on the elvie for a couple of different reasons.

The first reason was the fact of Gwyneth Paltrow’s endorsement of it. As a sex educator who actually cares about clinical reliability, I share Dr. Gunter’s disdain for Paltrow and her pseudoscience products and recommendations. You can read some of those comments here, or here, or here…or see the latest fiasco where GOOP tried attacking her here, with Dr. Gunter’s response here. So I’m not particularly keen to seek out a celebrity endorsement (from anyone, really, but particularly the woo-woo bot called Gwyneth).

The second reason for hesitance was the price — elvie costs $199. Fairly, that price is steep, and comparable price-wise with products GOOP happens to sell, which are mostly luxury items geared toward those who can afford to spend $85 for a bag of stones that can be purchased in any Arizona mineral shop for $5-10 (and they do this by labeling it “Inspired by the Shaman’s medicine bag from various indigenous traditions”) — what a load of horse manure. Now it so happens that elvie is listed in GOOP, but it’s also listed in Amazon, and on its own website — all for the same price, as it happens (why anyone would purchase it via a place like GOOP is beyond me, but hey, I’m not judging others’ personal choices). Whatever. To each her own, I suppose.

For some, the notion of an app for a kegel exercise program seems a bit far-fetched (understandably), but biofeedback is helpful. Knowing that you’re doing the exercise correctly is also helpful, especially since the overwhelming majority of women simply “doing their kegels” are doing them inconsistently and/or incorrectly. Are there other, less costly options? Yes, I’ve looked into several of those, and the problems I’ve encountered are two-fold. First, they have to be done regularly. Daily, ideally (except while menstruating). Most products I’ve seen and looked into have schedules that are 15-20 minutes at a time, which seems reasonable until you consider many women dealing with conditions that bring on the need for the exercise are also dealing with curious little humans who follow them everywhere (no matter how much we love our children, having alone time is precious and rare as it is without a little human asking what we’re doing, much less aiming for imitation), not to mention slipping away from a desk for 20 minutes randomly isn’t exactly ideal (and cuts into the lunch hour significantly). That, and the general inconvenience of trying to walk around with a weighted something or other up inside (because multi-tasking is a general skill many women possess out of necessity, and the shape of the weighted inserts make the likelihood of “slipping-outage” much higher). So, inconvenience is a key reason why many women don’t make correct kegels a part of their daily routine. Second, even if there is daily availability for upwards of 20 minutes to dedicate, that dedication typically involves removal of clothing with several different devices (not to mention some seriously quirky exercises if one is pursuing something like Pompoir — which go even longer, upwards of 1-1.5 hours unclothed from the waist down).

Unlike these other options (which I’m not knocking…if a woman is dedicated to any of those things…great), the elvie is five minutes…tops. It can be done before getting out of bed in the morning (save for the brief time to wash it prior). Or at the end of the day while getting ready to go to sleep. Or on a bathroom break at work. It is literally that quick. The app provides the daily reminder, and the process is pretty straightforward. The only “downside” (if we can call it a downside) is the time required to wash the device, but this downside applies to anything we put in our vaginas…they’ve gotta be clean before and after. So that’s not really a downside, in my view, but a simple matter of hygiene that is necessary for any exerciser designed to aid with kegels. Water-based cleaners, only, folks…same stuff that is designed for toys…LELO has a great water-based cleaner that is reasonable, and can be gotten here.

I’ve noted that several articles discussing the elvie mention that it’s “cute” — which, while that is actually true, is totally irrelevant. To me, it looks like a mint green sperm with the tail rolled over itself. I suppose one could call that “cute,” but I was less interested in what it looks like than what it does, and what it does is provide real-time feedback on variety exercises performed internally with the express purpose of strengthening the vaginal muscles to improve weakness in the pelvic floor. There are several other mechanical exercisers out on the market — some more and some less pricey, but the elvie was the only one I found that actually set goals based on the initial baseline (unique to the individual), and provides comparative feedback from previous workouts immediately. For me personally, this is one of its best features, because it is this feature that I was wanting to better understand in my own exercising, where previously, it was a bit of guesswork centered around whether or not I was experiencing “sneeze pee” (which has improved, undoubtedly, but the degree of improvement was impossible to actually know).

As for an area that was difficult to discern at first was whether or not to use the elvie with the “sleeve.” This depends on the individual, of course, and some of the reviews have commented to this point. What I found was that, yes, I could perform the exercises without the sleeve…at first…but the results were inconsistent (which is, in part, because of vaginal wall weakness that develops over time, especially having vaginally delivered babies). Using the sleeve has resulted in the exercises being more efficient for me, personally, though for other women the device alone may be perfectly sufficient.

One thing that I would point out – to anyone considering purchasing any kegel exerciser – before you take even start looking into which might be better for you, make sure you talk with your gynecologist and determine if you have any sort of prolapse…even a very mild one (and often, a mild prolapse may be unnoticeable by you, and your gyn might not point it out if you’re not experiencing any discomfort or complications with it). Reason being, a kegel exerciser can aggravate an existent prolapse. I’m not saying that it will with certainty, just that it can, and I would urge anyone to discuss introducing any new exercise regimen to discuss it with their physician, if such regimen could cause possible harm. This type of exercise regimen is no different, and pelvic health matters, so be sure to check with your gynecologist first.

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