In an age where we openly discuss the intimate details of our sex lives down the pub, it still surprises me that so many perfectly normal and incredibly common issues are swept under the carpet because we’re too embarrassed to talk openly. Did you know that roughly one in three of us will experience pelvic floor problems in our lifetimes, with 50% of those also suffering from related back trouble? This powerful little set of muscles sits like a hammock between your tailbone and pubic bone, lifting and holding your core. Although you may never know what they do until they stop working properly, they’re incredibly important. Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to a wide range of issues that occur when muscles of the pelvic floor are weak, tight or imparied, leading to conditions including pelvic pain, incontinence and organ prolapse. Although the underlying cause is difficult to determine, the most commonly discussed is related to childbirth - it's well known that new mothers are encouraged to practice their pelvic floor exercises, but as it's a muscle you can't see it's difficult to keep up motivation or know if you're doing a good job. However, these issues aren't restricted to those that have carried a child or given birth (as my previous post on bladder weakness illustrates.) As I type my grandmother is in recovery after a major operation to rectify a vaginal prolapse, also illustrating that the condition doesn't discriminate by age either. (It's been over 50 years since she last had a baby!) So if you're one of the millions of women in the UK that's suffering in silence with pelvic floor problems, or you'd rather take preventative action now rather than waiting for something to potentially go wrong in the future, what can you do?
Like any muscle, with a bit of exercise and effort you can feel the benefits over time. A new revolutionary gadget from Elvie aims to help women practice their pelvic floor exercises, track their progress and build up their confidence once again; Elvie's unique technology helps women achieve inner strength and control, while simultaneously having fun. Elvie says: "Without regular exercise, pelvic floor muscles are likely to cause more than half of all women bladder, sex or prolapse problems. Physical activities and life events, like impact sports, pregnancy, and giving birth weaken these muscles. When done correctly, simple exercise develops muscle tone and maintains strength." The tech bods at Elvie have developed the smallest kegel tracker available, made with medical grade silicone that is also 100% waterproof. Kegel (another word for pelvic floor) products are often designed from existing sex toys which can be too big or uncomfortable, let alone a little phallic, but Elvie started from scratch to find the perfect shape that can be used anywhere and provides optimum comfort. (Over 98% of the Elvie testing panel found it comfortable to use - and I would totally agree.)
The is a product created by women, for women, that's focused on small, discreet and custom sizing; you simply slip the Elvie inside your vagina (like a tampon) and start practising your exercises! The gadget has been designed to work with a smartphone app which not only tracks your progress and measures the strength of your muscles, but provides you with little games to make the whole process far more enjoyable. You simply squeeze along and try to hit the targets at the right time, not dissimilar to playing an old school game of Super Mario Bros! Not only does this make something potentailly scary actually quite feminine and enjoyable, but it helps to track your progress in real time: without feedback you simply don't know how you're doing (kind of like trying to lose weight without a scale,) but the Elvie ensures you know exactly how you're performing day by day. The design is simple, sleek, subtle and feminine without being girlie, while even the charging pod conceals the gadget within so anybody around you would be none the wiser. (You could totally charge this on your desk and not a soul would have a clue what it was - unless you chose to tell them!) It's so discrete that you could slip it in when you go to the loo and practice while watching telly or chatting on the phone; the silicone handle makes it quick, easy and completely comfortable to remove too. They really have thought of everything.
Although I don't personally suffer with any pelvic floor issues, in the interests of research I've been putting this to the test over the last couple of weeks. It may have felt a bit weird at first (and my boyfriend couldn't quite get his head around the fact I was playing games with my vagina,) but it's actually an enjoyable five minutes out of my day that definitely makes me giggle. It's amazing to see how strong your own muscles are, how you learn to gradually control them over time, and what progress you can make in only a couple of weeks. I've not been using this as regularly as I may have liked, but already I'm hitting target a little better; it's an investment I'm going to make in my health now and in the future, especially as I look to have children in the coming years and have heard nightmare stories from all of my mummy friends about peeing on a trampoline or when laughing too hard at the telly! When I periscoped a preview of this gadget a few weeks ago the response was overwhelming, proving that they are so many of you suffering with the condition and don't quite know where to turn. At £149.99 this isn't a cheap gadget, but it's a small price to pay if it can genuinely have a positive impact on your quality of life in the short and long term too.
Find out more about the Elvie on their website (www.elvie.com). The gadget costs £149.99, including the corresponding app, and is also available from Amazon.com.
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