vaginal cones and weights explained by a physiotherapist

Vaginal cones: a modern girl’s guide to the ancient art of pelvic floor weights

Vaginal cones and weights; relatively cheap and a good way to progress your pelvic floor training

Vaginal cones and weights are a very different concept to electronic devices, cheaper and more accessible for most people.  There is a bit of a knack to using them correctly.   They are particularly good for building the endurance qualities of the pelvic floor – which we need for holding babies, carrying shopping and going for a run.

 Did you know that vaginal cones are modern versions  of Chinese Ming Balls?  Once only available in sex shops and more associated with ancient “boudoir” skills than bladder control.  But good things last the test of time and vaginal cones are now even available on NHS prescription!   

The electronic devices monitor whether you are squeezing correctly and give  you feedback on that action as well as ‘games’ to keep you occupied.  However, because they are technically advanced, they are clever and also expensive.  Cones are a much cheaper, non-electric alternative (£25 – £30 with one type available on prescription).  

There are several choices on the market: –

the Neen Aquaflex Cones  Pelvic Floor Exercises System (boots.com, stressnomore.com), you put little weights inside a plastic cone and add more inside the plastic shell as you progress.  

Aquaflext vaginal cones have stood the test of time

Aquaflex vaginal cones

With the Kegel8 Vaginal Cones (www.stressnomore.com) you have 3 different cones of lighter to heavier weight.  

Kegel8 vaginal cones are available on prescription now

Kegel8 Vaginal Cones

There are also several others such as the Lelo Luna Beads which are more obviously modern takes on the original Ming Ball concept (www.stressnomore.com carry a comprehensive range)

Lelo luna balls vaginal weights based on Ming Balls

Lelo Luna Balls

 

 

Aquaflex vs Kegel8?

I have had many clients use both the Aquaflex or Kegel8  system – they do exactly the same job – Kegel8 a bit prettier and more touchy-feely with a nice pointer to help you see how far in to put it in (and now available on prescription) .  The Aquaflex cones have a finer retrieval cord, which appears from online reviews to make some people nervous  (though I’ve never had anyone have any trouble) but this does let you put your knickers back on giving you more options of where you might use them!   Have a look at them both online and read the customer reviews – but I would say it is just a personal preference thing.

Cones and weights are a progression from the basic exercise

You do need to have a good foundation pelvic floor contraction first or they are just going to fall straight out the minute you stand up, which is most disheartening.  If this happens to you, I would recommend you get your pelvic floor technique checked by a specialist physiotherapist first.    It is not uncommon for people to think they are squeezing quite perfectly only to find on proper vaginal examination that there is really not much going on at all.  Don’t panic if this is you – it is all sortable but cones are not for you (yet!). 

It’s like adding hand weights to your pilates routine

Good ol’ basic pelvic floor exercises come first (see the Pelvic Floor School videos).  The vaginal cones are to your pelvic floor exercises, as adding handweights would be to your yoga or pilates routine.  It takes the normal unloaded task and makes it more challenging by adding a resistance to work against.  Adding “load” to a muscle encourages it to work harder and grow more.    In the gym you can hold handweights for your arm exercises or push against a piece of gym equipment for more resistance challenge for your legs.  The cones allow you to add some weight directly onto the pelvic floor. 

How to use them

Though I said earlier it is like adding hand weights to arm exercises – it’s not quite like you might think.  When you are exercising with the vaginal weights you are not trying to squeeze and contract, on and off like with traditional pelvic floor/kegel exercises. Now you are rather trying to hold the weight of the cone in place while you do another activity.   You really are holding it to stop it falling out.  This style of holding exercise promotes the development of the slow twitch/endurance qualities of the muscle – think of channelling Mo Farah (for 2 hours on your feet at playgroup) rather than Hussein Bolt (though we need his power for The Knack when we cough or sneeze).    We need to develop this endurance muscle skill for when we are lugging shopping or carrying toddlers or trying to enjoy prolonged exercise.

First find the right weight

 If the vaginal weight is too heavy you will feel the cone slip out of position within 30 seconds.  If it is too light you might find you have completely forgotten all about it and practically gone out shopping with it.  It will have just been sitting in the vagina like a plastic tampon.  The right weight should feel like you are not doing anything terribly exciting for a minute or so and then you start to feel that it is slipping towards the vagina opening and needs a little push to reposition it.  This means that your muscles were holding it well, in an endurance hold, but as you started to fatigue, the muscles loosened and it started to move down the vagina with gravity.

 When inserting the cone it can help to use a tiny dab of personal lubricant on the end to help entry to the vagina but beware anything more than a dab or you will never hold it in.  Think more cork fully in a bottle than tampon position.  The Kegel8 has a marker on the “tail” to guide position, or with the Aquaflex you should have to reach inside about a knuckles depth to feel the base of the cone.

Then choose your venue

I don’t recommend wearing them out of the house as some adverts suggest. That just seems like asking for trouble to me.  I suggest that you stay securely at home and start by putting the cone in for a relatively still activity and then increasing the challenge. 

A customer favorite is to use the cones when you are going to wash your hair in the shower – based on the principle that this is about every second or third day and you don’t forget to wash your hair.   I also like that you are going to be naked anyway and its a naturally clean environment.   You can keep the cone you are using hidden discreetly in the bathroom, ideally somewhere close enough to the shower that you can reach it even if you’ve already got in and got wet before you remember the cone.

First skill – just stand still!

First goal is to just stand still and wash your hair as normal.  You will find yourself more conscious of your underneaths (!) and if it’s the right weight you will feel the need to reposition it a couple of times as soon as your muscles tire.  About the 4th time you come to wash your hair you should be noticing that it slips less easily and then very soon it doesn’t feel like a challenge at all. 

Progress to complex activities…

Now put your shampoo & toiletries on the floor while you shower to make yourself have to bend up and down a few times mid-hair wash.  When this is easy, progress by extending the showering session to include standing on the bath mat and over-dramatically rubbing dry, add in a little jog on the spot and then the ultimate tests are a bit of jumping up and down – and a pretend cough. The thought that you could shoot the cone across the bathroom if you don’t hold on will certainly activate the right muscles.    Once you can do all these things with your first weight time to progress.  If you are using the Kegel8 cones move to the next weight up, if you are using Aquaflex, unscrew the cone to add another weight inside.  Now, with your heavier weight in place go back to standing still and just hairwashing, progressing through the stages as before.

And maintain weekly….

Once you feel you have improved your muscle strength, endurance and co-ordination vaginal cones are neat to establish a “maintenance drill”  Pick one of your hair washes a week (say the weekend wash) to be the “cones-wash” and as long as week on week you are still as masterful at your washing, jumping and coughing routine you know the muscles are keeping strong.

Other popular activities

ironing – progress from simple tea-towels to complex men’s shirts and put the basket of laundry on the floor so you have to bend more

emptying the dishwasher – takes longer if you are multi-tasking with the cones but a nice bit of bending/stretching and few steps about the kitchen required

childcare – my sister’s mantra was never doing anything when you child is asleep that you could have done when they were awake.  Under 5’s are not going to remotely notice what you are up to.  Put some music on!  Start with some  sedate wafting about  to gentle nursery rhymes and build up to a good stomping rendition of the Grand Old Duke of York or a bit of Justin Bieber (no judgements here).

Let’s grow this list.  Have you tried vaginal cones or weights?  When (Where???!)  do you do yours?  Do share (photos optional).

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