“ Brand: Neen Medical „
I haven't had children, don't get stress incontinence or any other type of incontinence so what, you may wonder, am I doing reviewing a Pelvic Floor Educator? I'll tell you! I have Hypermobility Syndrome which means my joints are loose and painful and my ligaments don't support them properly so my muscles have to spasm in an attempt to take over this job. My worst affected area is my pelvic joints which leads to all kinds of pain in the actual pelvis, up my back and down my legs and my physio suggested perhaps some pelvic floor strengthening might help. The pelvic floor contributes to a stable pelvis and also cues the deep stabilisers to work and provides more stability that way. I first bought the pelvic floor cones with weights but they were a disaster (I probably should review them to tell you why!) so I paid a visit to a Women's Health Physio to find out why.
While I waited for my appointment with this new physio I developed urinary urgency, which means when you gotta go you gotta go NOW! Thankfully I didn't have urinary frequency so I wasn't rushing to the loo every few minutes but the urgency was a bit of a problem as when I went anywhere I had to either drink next to nothing before I went or not be too far away from a toilet at any given time. Not a great situation although I was still thankful I didn't have any incontinence as this can progress into urge incontinence where you leak before you get to the loo.
I was found to have very tight pelvic floor muscles, this is no doubt as a consequence of them clamping around my wobbly pelvic joints but the tightness was causing the urinary urgency. The muscles weren't just tight though, they were weak too and my slow twitch fibres (the ones that should work all the time) had shut off and gone into spasm. My fast twitch fibres were fine however which is why I didn't have stress incontinence. So this physio recommended the Pelvic Floor Educator to use while I tried to strengthen and relax my pelvic floor.
I bought mine online for £11 but Amazon sell them for about £15 so they aren't expensive. The item comes in a plastic bag with a resealable top so you can store it in there in between use. You get a probe, that's the section that goes inside the body and is a cylinder shape with a more pointed tip and has a block of plastic on the end that rests just outside the body which the wand attaches to. The wand is in three pieces which initially I thought was excessive but it makes it easy to watch without having to move. The first section of the wand clicks onto the probe with two little bits of plastic that you squeeze together and pop into a circular hole. The other two bits just snap onto each other with one end being rounded and a groove this bit rests in.
The Educator comes with instructions on how to insert it and how to use it but it won't tell you if your pelvic floor is tight, I'd actually recommend anyone who hasn't got classic stress incontinence gets their pelvic floor checked out because doing the wrong type of exercises can make things worse.
Basically these are only for women, men do have pelvic floor problems but due to the location they have to place a probe (the rectum) they would need a much smaller probe. The probe is inserted into the vagina with the end section that has the wand attached outside the body. As you lift and squeeze your muscles the wand should move downwards, not much, but you can see it. I expected a much more dramatic movement but it just moves a little bit. If it doesn't move you haven't used the muscles right and if it moves upwards you're doing it completely wrong and pushing the muscles down rather than lifting and squeezing! That is how the Pelvic Floor Educator educates, it provides feedback on whether you're using your muscles correctly. According to my research approximately half the female population can't isolate the pelvic floor and use the muscles correctly, probably because until there's a problem we don't have to think about these muscles.
It's important to breathe normally as you do the exercises and not to hold your breath (another common finding!) and as the muscles get tired you will start to see the wand move less and perhaps shake with the effort from the fatigued muscles. The Educator can be used for all kinds of pelvic floor issues but it depends what your particular problem is as to how many slow and fast contractions you need to do each day. It can be used in laying, sitting and standing but laying is the easiest as you can cut out all the other muscles except the pelvic floor. The wand is probably about 30cm long so it's easy to keep an eye on it.
You should use lubricant to insert the probe and once you're done just take it to pieces and wash it in soapy warm water. Once dry pop it back in the bag until next time. It will last a lifetime as there are no parts that will need replacing.
So does it work? Well I have a long way to go to get my pelvic floor to decrease its tension but I can honestly say a month in and I rarely get an overwhelming urge to go to the loo. I now feel it like I should and can take my time getting there so yes it does work. This is a handy little piece of equipment that doesn't cost much, it tells you if you are using the muscles correctly so you don't waste time doing the exercises wrong and is a compact item to store. I can't fault it and give it a full 5 stars.