These two categories are related because they relate to making the pelvic muscles “tighter” or “more relaxed”. We’re emphatically not medical professionals, but when it comes to the vagina, we know our tools!
What is a Vaginal (or Kegel) Exerciser and how do I choose one?
The Pubococcygeus (PC, or Kegel) muscles are the muscles located at your pelvic floor. People work these muscles to combat urinary incontinence, to maintain erection, and to increase the power of orgasm. The theory is that the stronger the muscles, the stronger the contractions. These exercises are named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, who first described them in 1948.
Vaginal Kegel exercises can involve simple repetitive squeezing (the traditional Kegel exercise) or the more regimental squeeze and release exercises designed around the use of a vaginal exerciser. Essentially, the idea is that you rhythmically tighten and relax your pelvic muscles around an object chosen for either weight or shape (resistance). Think of it like the difference between holding a barbell and squeezing one of those hand-exerciser executive desk toys. Shape and weight are your deciding factors here: In general, the smaller and heavier, the more difficult to hold in place. If you’re just starting out, you might want to start with something that’s wider and lighter, and work your way to heavier and more slender. Some exercisers come in sets so that you can easily switch to a more challenging model when the time comes!
Just as a side note, the much-touted Ben Wa Balls are supposed to work as described above, but we think they are perhaps more effective at titillating than exercising. Think about exercising your bicep – what’s the first thing you need? Weight! The original Ben Wa balls were made of lead – so they were heavy! As you can imagine, lead is out of the question now, but we carry some made of stainless steel. We don’t think they are terribly effective as exercisers, but who is to say? Maybe they are just the thing for you!
How Do I Select a Vaginal Dilator?
Some women suffer from medical conditions such as vaginismus and vulvodynia, which make penetration uncomfortable or downright painful. Sometimes as part of their therapy, doctors recommend a dilator. Because of the nature of our industry some doctors are loath to say: “Go visit a sex shop and buy yourself a small flexible dildo”. So unfortunately, they come up with alternative recommendations, like “try using a candle”. Ack! Worse are the medical products available: made of hard plastic, they look like – well, like something you’d find at a gynecologist’s office. Not exactly designed to inspire relaxation.
A better recommendation for dilation: silicone dildos of an appropriate size or design. Silicone is hypoallergenic, easy to clean, flexible, colourful, and will retain body heat. It’s also possible to warm them up in advance by immersing them in warm water or leaving them on a heating pad.
When considering girth, the collective wisdom we’ve gained from feedback in this situation is to (1) start under 1 1/4″ diameter at the widest point; (2) select a design with a narrow tip, not a pronounced head; (3) avoid texture and ridges; (4) stick to medium-density models; and (5) use a water-based, non-glycerin lubricant.
To explore more detailed information on causes and available treatments for painful vaginal episodes, visit our friends at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Center.