When used correctly and regularly, Kegel weights assist in the strengthening of the pubococcygeal (PC) muscles, or the pelvic floor. To use a Kegel weight, a woman inserts it into her vagina and performs vaginal exercises by localizing and squeezing her PC muscles around the weight. Kegel exercise weights are most often used by pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant women, and those who have recently given birth. Other people who use Kegel weights may include those with urinary incontinence issues, and those who wish to strengthen their PC muscles for sexual purposes.
The PC muscles support the surrounding sphincter, bladder, and urethra. By using Kegel weights to strengthen these muscles, a woman decreases her chance of vaginal leakage, vaginal flatulence and other related issues. These things can happen while simply sitting or standing, or when a normal act — such as sneezing, laughing, jumping, stretching, or coughing — applies significant pressure on the bladder. Such problems are often consequences of a weak pelvic floor, which can be strengthened with the consistent use of a vaginal weight.
Though pregnancy can hinder the pelvic floor’s performance, so can obesity, aging, weak PC area tissues, and chronic coughs. In addition to the embarrassment that accompanies issues such as urinary incontinence, weak PC muscles can also contribute to more serious consequences, such as pelvic organ prolapse. When this happens, the pelvic organs slide down toward the vagina, causing leakage and an uncomfortable vaginal and abdominal pressure. By exercising with vaginal weights, a woman is strengthening the very walls that can prevent a prolapse from happening.
The Kegel exercise was popularized by Los Angeles gynecologist Dr. Arnold M. Kegel. In 1948, Dr. Kegel began preparing his patients for childbirth by having them practice vaginal contractions on their own. Dr. Kegel also invented the Kegel perineometer, a pelvic muscle sensor. When using this device, patients and their attending medical personnel could monitor their contraction progress.
Modern simplified Kegel weights, however, are simple devices with no specific feedback measures. While vaginal weights do exist with internal gauges, many believe the gauge is not necessary. A women who purchase Kegel weights are instructed to simply insert the weight — which is no bigger than a tampon — into her vagina and practice holding it there for several repetitions of a few to several seconds at a time, just like a regular fitness exercise. With regular practice — performing the exercise at least three times a day — women are said to vastly improve their vaginal strength within three to 12 weeks.
Kegel weights are commonly made of stainless steel, as it is a nonporous material that is easily sterilized with mild soap and water. They are also made from rubber, as it doesn’t break like plastic or glass. Rubber Kegel weights may include a pressure gauge, allowing a woman to monitor her contraction progress.
The weight itself generally looks like a barbell, typically with a one-inch (2.54-centimeter) diameter. It is smooth to the touch and glides comfortably into the vagina. It may also double as a sex toy. Some Kegel weights are sold with spring sets, which allow for the gradual contraction resistance.