What's the difference between a pelvic floor biofeedback gadget and a muscle stimulation machine

What’s the difference between a pelvic floor biofeedback device and a stimulation machine?

Help! So many different pelvic floor gadgets – which one for me?

You have probably heard of “gadgets” to help exercise your pelvic floor muscles.   If you have been thinking about buying one you may already have looked around online.  My complete sympathy if you are feeling overwhelmed and confused!  Not only  about which one to get but also the difference between them.  They range in price enormously.  The language can be confusing.  There are so many different suppliers..… 

This post aims to help you understand:

  • the braod difference between a stimulation unit, a biofeedback device and weights/resistance devices and reminder devices/apps

I hope this overview will start to clear the confusion for you.  Once you have a fair idea which category gadget or device interests you most do read the Supported Mums Field Guides (with regularly updated product links)  to each: 

There are broadly four types of pelvic floor gadget

  • Stimulation units
  • Biofeedback devices
  • weights/resistance devices
  • Trackers/Memory Aids

# Stimulation units

send electrical impulses TO your muscles to help them to contract/exercise  (they wholly or partially do it for you)

examples:  Kegel8 Mother Nuture, Kegel8 Ultra20, Neurotrac Continence, NuTek-Levator, Neen Pericalm, Pelviva Muscle Trainer, Innovo Shorts

whereas

# Biofeedback devices

show you what you are doing with your muscles when you contract/exercise them using your own brain.  Some do this by sending an electrical impulse from you to the machine but there are others that do this using a pressure signal or another type of sensor.  

examples: Neen Educator, Kegel8 Pelvic Floor trainer, EpiNo, Simplex,  Pelvitone, Nu-Tek Levator Mini,  Elvie, Pericoach, KGoal (Pelvifly), Vibrance Trainer

Then there are gadgets for pelvic floors that are already working well:

# Gadgets that add resistance and/or weight

to your ‘ordinary’ pelvic floor exercises – to make the muscles work harder – just like you push or pull weights in the gym or pull against a resistance band or  work with a Pilates circle

examples:   Educator,, Pelvic Toner, Pel, Aquaflex Cones, Kegel Weights, Secret Whispers 

# Gadgets and apps that help you remember

to do your pelvic floor exercises, keep track of your progress, or prompt you to follow a sequence to make sure you regular perform a full range of tasks

examples:  Squeezy App, Intimina,  Tena’s PPX app

Note:  Combined Stim & Biofeedback Machines

You can also buy combined units which do both functions but these are surprisingly expensive (and a bit fiddly) so if you feel you need both systems I usually suggest you buy two separate simpler units and switch between them

Keen to learn more? Check out our Field Guides

  • which piece of kit might be useful to you depending on your circumstances
  • the detail of how they work, subtle differences and where to get them
  • when a gadget is not suitable or contraindicated

Supported Mums Field Guides: 


Not sure what YOU need?

Make the most of your local specialist physiotherapist

Most electrical devices cost over £100.  An hours appointment 1:1 with a specialist physiotherapist would  cost £70-90 (depending on area).  If you are hesitating what to buy, or even if you need a device at all,  why not first have a full assessment of your situation first?

Get clarity first

Remember that a specialist physiotherapist like myself, will do a proper examination of your pelvic floor, to give you complete clarity on what your personal pelvic floor strength, endurance and function.  Then together you can decide and plan the most appropriate and effective strategy for you to develop your muscles and skills further.

It is particularly important to consider an individual assessment by a specialist physiotherapist if you are at all worried that your pelvic floor muscles might be too tight rather than too weak.

Try before you buy

Most clinics will have a drawer full of gadgets and devices for you to see, touch  and discuss – and many, like our clinic, have units for you to borrow if you prefer to try before you buy.  

Or if you have already bought a unit or gadget and don’t feel that you are getting the most from it do book an appointment with a physiotherapist who will be able to help you to:

Or you might not need a gadget at all!

We can also teach you exercises , which require no equipment at all! We usually combine pelvic floor exercises with appropriate abdominal muscle work as these two areas need to work well together for best support of our internal organs.

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have further questions. Readers would love to know your experiences if you would be happy to share?

Savage, A.M (2019). Neuromuscular electrical stimulation devices. Journal of Pelvic, Obstetric & Gynaecological Physiotherapy, 125, 16-25

Savage, A.M (2021). Handheld biofeedback devices to enhance pelvic floor muscle training. Journal of Pelvic, Obstetric & Gynaecological Physiotherapy, 128, 54-57

Savage, A.M (2018). Continence products and medication devices: issues that pelvic health physiotherapists need to consider. Journal of Pelvic, Obstetric & Gynaecological Physiotherapy, 122, 30-40

2 thoughts on “What’s the difference between a pelvic floor biofeedback device and a stimulation machine?

  1. VICKIE HICKS says:

    Hi how do I find someone in the Dayton, Oh to Richmond, In, area to help me? I have a ten unit with a probe, but don’t know what other exercizes to go to get the most benefit. Thanks for any help you can give.

    • Amanda Savage says:

      Hi Vickie. I think you are looking for help in the USA? There are Physical Therapists who specialise in pelvic health who you could ask to be referred to. You will find lots of exercises you can do at home in the Pelvic Floor School section of this site too.

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