Kegel exercises have become mainstream in recent years, and I have to wonder if it’s because they have a reputation for making your vagina tighter.

We are, as a society, obsessed with tight vaginas, after all.

Exercise? My vagina?

First of all, what are Kegels?

The Kegel, AKA the pubococcygeneus (PC) muscle is a muscle found along your pelvic floor. When you have to pee but are holding it in because society says ladies must urinate in porcelain toilet bowls and not squat among the daisies, it’s your PC muscle that’s doing the clenching . This clenching, or squeezing, if you will, is the foundation of all Kegel exercises. Repeated contracting and releasing is the way to a stronger PC muscle.

The usual Kegel exercise women do

Squeeze your pelvic muscles the way you would if you were holding in pee. Hold for 3 seconds. Relax for 3 seconds. Some people go longer, up to 10 seconds. Do sets of 10 to 15 per session, up to 3 or 4 sessions a day.

You can do it while taking notes in class, on the bus, while sipping a latte, or anywhere else at all, and no one will ever know.

Fun fact: Although Kegel exercises are almost exclusively marketed toward those with a vagina, anyone can do them, even if they have a penis instead. 

So what are Kegel balls?

Circa 500 AD or so, single Kegel balls, AKA ben-wa balls, usually made of silver, were mentioned in Asian sex writings in Burma and Japan. Some were solid, and others hollow, with clappers that made a ringing sound as they rolled around in the vagina.

Although the original idea was to increase men’s pleasure during sex (‘cause it’s so hard for them, am I right?), ben-wa balls were eventually used in pairs, and re-appropriated by women to increase the strength of their pelvic floor muscles—the ones involved in their very own orgasms.

Today, these body-safe devices come in many sizes, some attached by a string, some made of metal, or of glass. It’s customary to start with larger balls if you’re a novice (even if they appear intimidating), and work your way to the smaller ones, which are harder to hold inside. As Cosmo puts it, the standard size beginner Kegel balls are “roughly the size of a gumball for Paul Bunyan.”

Even though you can do Kegel exercises without any tools, Kegel balls are helpful because they don’t require any concentration–you just insert the balls and they directly stimulate your Kegel muscle, easy peasy.

It's especially great if you have trouble identifying your Kegel muscle. But many women also start out doing regular Kegel exercises and then graduate to using Kegel balls to increase resistance.

Benefits! Or, “can they make me tighter”?

The balls strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, ladies. This brings with it the following possible benefits:

·  Prevention & treatment of urinary and fecal incontinence

·  Prevention of vaginal prolapse

·  Faster vaginal recovery post-pregnancy

·  Vaginal stimulation and increased arousal

·  Greater control of your muscles and ability to contract them, which makes for a “tighter” feeling during sex

·  Easier attainment of orgasms

·  Heightened sexual pleasure for both partners

·  Increased sex drive (due to increased sensitivity!)

·  Easier childbirth

How to use Kegel balls

When inserting Kegel balls, especially for the first time, try lying down with your legs relaxed. And go pee first.

Slather a good amount of water-based lube onto the balls (silicone lubes might break down your Kegel balls if they’re also made of silicone). Then, slide them in, one by one. If it hurts, or they seem too big, try masturbating a bit first to get your natural juices flowing.

Once they’re in, push them up far as they’ll go comfortably, the way you would a tampon or Diva cup. Once they’re inside of you, the weights will bounce around, and your Kegel muscle will involuntarily contract as a result of this movement. It’s actually kinda effortless, and you may find you want to wear them all day.

Let them be your dirty little secret as you drive to the store or give that important presentation to your boss.

In fact, it’s not unheard of for women to orgasm just from having their Kegel balls in as they go about their business. Test ‘em first, and know your limits, of course.

Also, do treat them as a sex toy. Try keeping them in while you rub your clit, or get your partner to stimulate your anus at the same time. Just a thought.

To take them out, reach a finger into your vagina and gently pull the first ball downward. Wash with warm water and mild soap, and rinse well.

Exercises

Don’t like the passive role? That’s fine. Besides just inserting the balls and letting ‘em work their magic, there are also Kegel ball exercises you can be proactive about:

The sitting exercise. Sit with your legs closed. Find your PC muscle and use it to try to move the balls back and forth. If you can't at first, try squeezing the balls and holding them for a few seconds, and then relaxing for a few seconds, much the way you’d do exercises without the balls.

The standing exercise. Stand and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Use your PC muscle to hold the balls inside your vagina. If you stop contracting, the balls will fall out or down. Do this 3x a day, and try to go for longer each time.

The squatting exercise. Position your feet as wide apart as possible. Bend your knees slightly to move smoothly into a squat.

Use your PC muscle to hold the Kegel balls in place and move them back and forth. For a deeper challenge, move into a deeper squat.

Don’t forget to put your back into it.

And above all, as always, have fun.

Image source: Tony Futura