Ever since I turned 40 this year, I’ve been noticing an uptick in targeted advertising. Now I’m inundated with ads about bladder protection, bladder control, urinary incontinence and preventing leakage. All the time. I’m getting these as sponsored ads on Instagram and Twitter or I’m reading an article or blog post, then surprise! There’s a little square ad talking about my bladder. It makes all the sense that targeted ads like this would be following me – according to the National Association For Incontinence (yes indeed) one in five adults over 40 are affected by overactive bladder symptoms. Consequently, there are a ton of leakage protection products on the market like pads and special underwear. But what about being proactive so we won’t really need these kinds of products as much in the first place? That’s where I’m at right now. Knowing that one in five adults of my age will be dealing with this issue is enough to get me thinking about what I could and should do to avoid it as much as possible.
A weak pelvic floor is at the core of many incontinence issues, and there’s a variety of ways you can strengthen your pelvic floor. One way I’ve heard a lot about but didn’t fully understand until recently, were Kegel exercises. I first heard about the power of Kegels via headlines on the cover of Cosmo magazine in the 80’s, and long had seen the exercises positioned as something done to improve your sex life. Turns out, they’re beneficial for much more than that.
Kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor, which in turn can help with things like bladder leakage or prolapse. Click here to read more about Kegels from the NAFC – their advice is to find out from a physical therapist or medical practitioner if you need to do the exercise often or if your issue is an overworked pelvic floor that needs to be relaxed. So let’s say your pelvic floor is weak and you know you need to strengthen it. If you’re doing Kegels at home, how do you know you’re doing them right? Or for a long enough time to make a difference? Enter the Kegelbell — a product intended to strengthen your pelvic floor.
The Kegelbell was devised by Dr. Stephanie Schull in response to a problem that affected a beloved relative. Her loved one underwent vaginal mesh surgery to help with a weakened pelvic floor, and it resulted in insufferable, long-term pain and side effects. Seeing what her relative endured began Dr. Schull’s path of inquiry, but her research led her to realize how big of a problem pelvic floor issues were.
“It is really after talking with hundreds of women, doing the research through medical studies, and seeing what big business and healthcare was doing — and not doing — that made me start the business,” she explained to me in a recent interview. “Surgical interventions involve permanent implants of plastic that by their nature can too easily lead to compilations that cannot be resolved. For now, the problems aren’t fixable, instead the woman can have chronic pain and/or numbness and chronic infections, and the plastic edges of the permanent implant can cut into the vagina and surrounding tissues in the woman,” says Dr. Schull. Now there is a pelvic mesh recall, but that comes too late for her relative and for the many women who endured this surgery at the recommendations of their doctors. After seeing her loved one go through all of this, Dr. Schull was inspired to come up with a solution. She invented something with intentional weight, literally and medically speaking.
The Kegelbell is a weight training system that makes it easier for women to perform an effective kegel. You get a medical grade silicone insert, and you attach your weight to the long part. Weight A is 30g. Weight B is 60g. Weight C is 120g. Kegelbell is intended to be used for 5 minutes, three times a week. According to Dr. Schull, the benefits are abundant.
“Kegelbell will not get you the body you had before the baby or when you were younger, rather it gets you into the best shape of your life no matter your age… The secret is in the weight being outside the body and hanging from a dynamic cord–better, faster, and more effective workouts so in just 5 minutes 3 times a week–you get the results you want,” says Dr. Schull.
So if you’re tired of peeing a little when you sneeze or laugh or insert action here, this is a much less invasive and possibly longer term solution to help mitigate that issue. If you haven’t yet had any urinary incontinence issues, then that’s awesome and congratulations — but pay attention so you’ll know how to hopefully avoid those issues in your future.
The Mayo Clinic has a helpful page on doing kegels for women, and this WebMD page has helpful tips on Kegels for men. Whether you’re doing kegel exercises with or without the assistance of a device, the main point is that they work and they can help. I’m trying to be more consistent, myself. I’m also trying to be more holistic in my self-care practices and recognize the accountability and necessity of tending to my whole self.
Even in writing this, I felt myself being cautious and feeling timid around the topic. Why? If you’re a woman and you’re reading this, you may be experiencing issues with bladder control, prolapse, etcetera. Maybe you’re my age and you’re starting to get messages about bladder leakage issues everywhere you look. As I get older, I realize the ways I’ve let myself be affected by the shame, indoctrination and miseducation I’ve absorbed about my own body. My life’s goal is to leave that behind, to age with strength and continue to step into my power as I grow up. This is another way of doing just that, and of walking the walk when it comes to taking the best possible care of myself from head to toe.
It turns out, Dr. Schull is on the same page as I am, in that regard. She left me with some wise words, and her wisdom is part of what led me to want to write this blog post and share the Kegelbell with Afrobella readers in the first place.
“The thing I personally most want women to know is that all our lives, especially in those formative years growing up, we were taught and sternly told to ignore ‘that’ part of the body. We did so to our detriment. The muscles of the vagina atrophy from neglect and when they do, we get bladder leakage, more painful periods, sexual dysfunction of all kinds, and eventually organs prolapse resulting in hysterectomies and other dire interventions. The message is–there are muscles down there that need us to be in connection with them. Kegelbell is the perfect way to safely, naturally, and painlessly reconnect with the muscles and bring them back to life. And they want to be engaged. In about two weeks of use, changes become apparent. And what does it do for the mind and spirit of the woman? Well, beautiful things happen when our minds are connected to this essential part of our being. So Kegelbell is about healing our minds and bodies from years of miseducation. Time to teach ourselves how to love ourselves since we had only been taught to repress and deny. When we do strengthen this primordial connection, we radiate in a powerfully beautiful way and we live more fully.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Dr. Schull.
Dr. Stephanie Schull’s device, the Kegelbell is available at her site, Kegelbell.com — click that link to get 20% off your purchase until November 9th, 2019. Follow on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @Kegelbell.