Your Beginner’s Guide to Ben Wa Balls
By Carina Hsieh | Originally Published November 3 on Cosmopolitan | Featuring Dr. Sherry Ross
What are Ben Wa balls?
Ben Wa balls, or vaginal exercise weights, are meant to be inserted into your vagina to improve pelvic floor muscles. Dr. Nita Landry, OBGYN, and co-host of The Doctors, explains that when you insert Ben Wa balls into your vagina, your pelvic muscles work to hold them in place. Dr. Candace Howe, an OBGYN, compares the added weight of these balls to using free weights when exercising other parts of the body.
What exactly are Ben Wa balls and what do they do? Are they a sex toy or a legit health exerciser? The answer is a little bit of both. Dr. Howe says while they were originally designed to rebuild strength and support lost in pelvic floor muscles, over time Ben Wa balls have gotten more and more popular as a sex toy. She says this is due to the stimulation they provide on the anterior vaginal wall, which is full of sensitive nerve endings. And as Dr. Nita points out, the Fifty Shades of Grey books have caused a surge in popularity for Ben Wa balls after the toys were mentioned in the series. (TBT that iconic scene when Anastasia Steele, wide-eyed with panic, asks Christian if he’s going to put the Ben Wa balls in her butt. If that’s not the most relatable moment in Fifty Shades series, I don’t know what is.)
Is there any medical reason to use them?
Do you need to do Kegel exercises or run out and buy a set of Ben Wa balls right TF now? Even though Ben Wa balls can be a fun challenge, probably not. In fact, you’ve probably exercised your PC muscles without even knowing it. Dr. Howe says regular core-strengthening exercises also work the same pelvic muscles. “Any core strengthening exercises that work the obliques, transversus and rectus abdominal muscles along with the lower back and upper thighs — such as lunges, crunches, bends, and leg lifts to name a few — can help strengthen the levator muscles and pelvic floor,” she explains. Dr. Sherry Ross, OBGYN and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. says some women may like the fullness that Ben Wa balls can provide, although regs Kegel exercises would accomplish the same thing for free.
Dr. Howe says there may be some benefits to using them for people after childbirth or who have suffered other pelvic trauma that has caused their pelvic floor muscles to weaken over time. She says that Ben Wa balls help to give a “focus and directed intention to exercises designed to rebuild that support and strength.” Dr. Sherry also points out that if used correctly, Ben Wa balls can help you avoid symptoms such as stress and urge incontinence caused by childbirth, aging, and obesity.
Are there any risks?
It is possible to go overboard with the Ben Wa balls. Rachel Gelman, DPT, PT at Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, says overexerting your PC muscles can also cause harm. Gelman says if you do choose to use Ben Wa balls, make sure you also relax your pelvic floor afterward, just like any other workout.
Dr. Sherry compares this to using Ben Wa balls like regular weights at the gym — you can still overdo it and cause temporary strain. However, this is easily avoidable. Dr. Sherry says, overexerting your PC muscles from Ben Wa balls doesn’t happen too often. Going forward, she recommends that “rest[ing] and being less enthusiastic with your pelvic floor workout would be recommended to avoid problems in the future.”
Dr. Sherry also says that leaving them inside the vagina for too long can stress the pelvic floor muscles and cause vaginal infections. In order to avoid infection, she says to make sure you’re cleaning the balls with a vagina friendly, non-fragranced soap and warm water after each use. | | | Next → |