Kegel balls, also called Ben Wa balls, saw a spike in sales thanks to Fifty Shades of Gray. But Christian Grey didn’t exactly provide an instruction manual beyond placing then in Ana’s vagina. So how do you actually use these little weighted balls — and why should you? We talked to Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD, sex therapist and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive, to find out more.
Kegel balls are small, weighted balls that you wear inside the vagina in order to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. “It’s kind of like doing weights for your pelvic floor,” Dr. Castellanos says. Kegel balls have many practical benefits — strengthening the vagina after childbirth, controlling urinary incontinence, and increasing the intensity of orgasms. Some people also find wearing kegel balls to be a turn-on, either by itself or as a form of foreplay (cue that Fifty Shades scene).
Lighter and bigger kegel balls are easier to begin with, and you’ll want to choose balls made out of stainless steel, glass, or medical-grade silicone. (If you choose kegel balls that are too small or too heavy, “they could fall out and hit you on the toe,” Dr. Castellanos says.)
There are two types of kegel balls you can use. The first type consists of, simply, two weighted balls. These should be used in the same way you do weights at the gym, Dr. Castellanos explains. She suggests three sets of ten reps. Or, you can place the balls inside your vagina and hold them for as long as you can. “I give people combinations of these exercises, because they exercise the muscle in different ways," she says. Once you have done these exercises, you simply take the balls out — you don't have to keep wearing them all day.
The second type of kegel balls are meant to be worn for a few hours and often consists of one ball placed within another ball, which causes a little vibration when you move around. Instead of doing reps, these kegel balls should be worn as you go about your everyday business (and you do want to be moving — not sitting or lying down). “It’s like doing exercise without thinking about it,” Dr. Castellanos explains.
Some kegel balls come with a string attached, while others come as stand-alone balls. Either way, when inserting them, you want to wash your hands first and get into a position that feels comfortable — for first-timers, lying on your back may be the easiest. If the balls have a string, you can simply pull them out, like a tampon. If there isn’t a string, then you’ll want to remove the kegel balls by squatting and bearing down a little bit. Then, “insert your finger past the pelvic floor and do a little sweeping motion,” Dr. Castellanos says. “As you’re pushing gently, grab onto the ball and pull it out.”