Claire Keane is a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist at Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital. She’s used her expertise to evaluate the best devices on the market to show you what works and what doesn’t.
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What are pelvic floor muscle training devices?
Modern innovation has meant the development of technology that can assist with your pelvic floor strengthening exercises. These devices come in several different shapes and sizes and are available at varying different price points so there’s something for everyone.
These devices have not been proven to be better than guided pelvic floor exercises alone, however they can provide a helpful visual cue and/or biofeedback whilst performing your usual exercises routine.
Should I see a specialist first?
We always recommend you see a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist if you’re having issues with your pelvic floor. They will be able to give you a comprehensive assessment so you can get tailored advice and treatments that suit you and your condition. Your therapist can also advise on which tool might suit you best to help you achieve your goals.
If you’re looking for a device to help support your treatment, recovery or to maintain your pelvic floor strength, we’ve written this guide to outline the features of each device to help make your selection choice a little easier.
Vaginal weights and cones
Vaginal weights and cones come in a range of different shapes and sizes. They are small weights that are placed into the vagina, where stimulation causes the user to contract their pelvic floor muscles for added assistance with exercise.
Weights and cones are generally designed to be used for around 15 minutes at a time. The amount of time you use these devices should be gradually increased over time to improve pelvic floor exercise performance. If you have any pain or discomfort, stop and seek professional advice.
Biofeedback technology and pelvic floor devices
These are devices that give you visual feedback when your pelvic floor muscle squeezes. Feedback is given either on an app that is connected via Bluetooth, a handheld screen, or simply an indicator stick which is attached to the device and moves as you engage your pelvic floor muscles.
Some of these devices will give you a “score” for your strength. If this is a function that your device has, it will set you a specific training programme for your symptoms. Some biofeedback devices even come with interactive games that can assist with exercise performance and durability.
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation devices
These devices (like the biofeedback ones mentioned above) involve placing a probe into the vagina which is attached to a handheld unit. Each probe has a series of metal plates on the side. These plates deliver a small electrical impulse which stimulates the muscles to contract when contact with the pelvic floor muscles is made.
The user can adjust the settings on the handheld device to optimise an outcome and to ensure it is not painful or uncomfortable. If in doubt about whether neuromuscular devices are right for you, we recommend that you seek guidance from a pelvic health physiotherapist to set the correct programme for you.
Hip and thigh strengthening
There are also external devices (devices which are not inserted inside the vagina) on the market which concentrate on strengthening the muscles around your hips and thighs. Building up the muscles in these two parts of the body can help with your pelvic floor because the two areas are so closely linked.
There are lots of products that are used around the thighs or hips that claim to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These devices primarily strengthen your leg and hip muscles, however there is evidence to suggest that strengthening the leg and hip muscles can help to address pelvic floor muscle weakness.
Unsure what’s best for your body? Talk it through with a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist
Last updated Thursday 31 August 2023
First published on Thursday 24 August 2023