What To Know About Using Kegel Balls

When American gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel discovered that childbirth had weakened the pelvic floor of his patients, he devoted 18 years of his life to trying to figure out how he could help them. In 1948, when he wrapped his research, Dr. Kegel had found a solution: the pelvic floor needed to be exercised regularly, just like other parts of the body, if the reproductive organs, urinary system, and lower abdomen were going to work properly. Naturally, he named this form of exercising Kegel exercises.

If you have a vagina, you've probably heard about Kegel exercises since you first began menstruating. Kegel exercises involve tightening the pelvic floor muscles, as if you're reaching for something with the inside of your vagina, then lifting that something up and holding it for three seconds. While doing this, your stomach, legs, and butt shouldn't move; everything should be internal, so you can technically do them anywhere and no one will know. But the problem with Kegel exercises is that they're not easy to do correctly.

"Research shows that most women do not do Kegels correctly, and around 85 percent reported that verbal instruction alone did not help them properly perform a Kegel," pelvic floor physical therapist Rachel Gelman tells Bustle. "So, if anyone thinks they should be doing Kegels or feels like they need help, they should consult a pelvic floor specialist to determine if they need to be doing them and to make sure they are doing them correctly." Enter Kegel balls.

What are Kegel balls and how they work

Although Kegel balls may don Dr. Kegel's name, these balls — also called Ben Wa balls — have been used for centuries to do exactly what Dr. Kegel wanted: exercise the pelvic floor. These small, weighted balls, when clutched inside the vagina by the vaginal and pelvic floor muscles, are the key to bladder control, preventing prolapsed uteruses and/or anuses, and stronger orgasms (via Kegel Bell).

While you may not be worried about incontinence or prolapsed anything yet, it's important to remember that gravity will eventually take its toll, and, well, that aside, who doesn't want stronger and longer orgasms? That should be the selling point right now if you're still decades away from adult diapers. Not only has research published in the medical journal Investigative and Clinical Urology found that a strong pelvic floor helps contribute to more intense orgasms, but doing your Kegel exercises during P-in-V intercourse — either with or without Kegel balls — increases sexual satisfaction for both partners.

"When a woman does Kegels during vaginal intercourse, the pelvic floor muscles contract on the penis — enhancing his sexual experience as well," OB-GYN Dr. Sherry Ross tells Insider. Granted, it will take quite a bit of practice to pull off such multitasking flawlessly, but you can get there. 

How to use Kegel balls

Before you let your brain drift off, though, you first want to learn how to use them correctly. Like anything you put in your body, you want to make sure your Kegel balls are body-friendly, meaning they're made of glass, steel, or silicone. If they're made of plastic, toss them and buy body-friendly ones.

Next, you want to slowly insert them into your vagina with clean hands to get an idea of how they feel. It's best to insert Kegel balls for the first time while laying down until you get the hang of them, and then contract, using your muscles to hold them in place as you stand up. You only want to wear them for a few minutes a day in the beginning, but you can do them up to 15 minutes a day as you get more comfortable with them (via Intimate Rose). Once you're feeling at ease with them, it's time to explore and have some fun.

"You might insert the balls and rotate or gently tug on the strings to create a range of sensations," sexologist and relationship expert Jess O'Reilly, Ph.D. tells Women's Health. "Some people enjoy pulling them out very slowly to heighten awareness and bring attention to the more subtle sensations... Changes in temperature can heighten arousal and change the way we interpret pleasure by activating the body's sensitive thermoreceptors." And what's great about them is they can be enjoyed solo or with a partner. 

The takeaway is that Kegel balls are great for exercise and sexual pleasure. After all, it's rare in life that something offers both. So, with that in mind, you might as well go out and pick up a set today. You know, treat yourself.