High Tech Kegel Exercises with PeriCoach – I was so excited I tried it myself!
Like many of my patients, Jana* was hesitant and embarrassed when I asked about whether she was experiencing leaking urine. She nodded and told me that it happened a few times a week and while she tried to remember to do Kegel exercises, she wasn’t sure if she was even doing them right.
Jana was also surprised to learn that she wasn’t alone. The fact is that 1 in 3 women will experience leaking at some point in their lives. Women are doing the best they can to adapt to leaking urine. We wear protective pads, visit the bathroom as often as possible and try to remember to do those Kegel exercises.
There’s an App for that!
Recently I heard about a new, easy-to-use at home pelvic trainer and app, the PeriCoach system. It teaches women with real time visual feedback via a Bluetooth connection to their smartphone how to exercise and strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, in other words how to do Kegels and do them correctly.
Women can see how strong their muscle contractions are on their smartphone and track their progress. There’s even a secure portal at my.pericoach.com that women can share with their clinicians so they can both keep track of their progress.
Leaking has been difficult to treat
For years, I’ve been teaching women how to exercise their pelvic floor muscles. It takes a lot of time and for many women, isolating and squeezing the right muscles is difficult even with photos and 1 on 1 coaching. I’ve recommended classes and physical therapists, anything to help women regain more control over their leaking bladders. What I hear from my patients, is that going to classes or appointments takes too much time, they all want something easier to do.
FDA –Cleared Breakthrough Technology
The PeriCoach was launched in the USA last summer and until now was available only by prescription. Recently, the FDA cleared the PeriCoach to be sold over the counter. The fact that the FDA reviewed this device is important to me because I’ve seen a lot of other pelvic floor training devices that didn’t live up to their promise. They’re not all the same and for something this personal and private, it was important to know that it’s safe.
Recently, PeriCoach received an indication from the FDA to help with sexual functioning. We know that when the pelvic muscles are strengthened, women may find that sensation and satisfaction improves.
The PeriCoach arrives in the mail in a discreet carrying case that doubles as a charger. The instructions are easy to understand and in a short time, I was downloading the PeriCoach app and using Bluetooth to pair it with my smartphone. Ok, so far so good.
I followed the set up instruction from the website video. I also liked that no matter where you are in the world, if you needed help, there was a toll-free phone number to call for customer support. Alright, that’s a plus.
After charging my PeriCoach, and using the Set Up Wizard, I wanted to start practicing right away and see just how much strength my pelvic floor muscles still had.
The entire device fit in the palm of my hand. It is kind of L shaped, with the handle portion at one side and a small probe on the other. The probe itself is small and perfectly shaped for insertion into the vagina. In fact, if a woman can insert a tampon into her vagina, she should be able to easily insert the PeriCoach. It’s recommended, and I also found that using a water-based lubricant helps it glide in easier.
As a real user, I like how small it is, and as a clinician I was happy to see that there are 3 different biofeedback sensors on the probe portion: one on the top, and one on each side.
These biofeedback sensors are an important feature because they provide a feedback from watching a moving line on the phone. I knew when I was using the right muscles because the line moved. If I was using my abdominal muscles or pushing, the line didn’t move. Aha!
As a clinician, I know that only half of women can correctly squeeze their pelvic floor muscles when asked, even if they get written instructions.
The sensors also showed me how strong my muscle contractions were, how effective my added squeezing was or wasn’t and how long I could hold the contraction. This is a breakthrough.
Customized to a woman’s personal abilities
The PeriCoach gave me the option of exercising while standing up or while lying down. Before I started, the app had to figure out what my personal muscle strength was to just how much force I was starting out with. In this way, it customizes the sensors to my personal ability and my starting point. Then it syncs up and calibrates the app so I can begin my own personalized exercise program.
Love the visual feedback
It wasn’t difficult when I started, in fact it was kind of like a game to see how high I could get the little line to go up just by squeezing.
As a beginner, yes, I’m a beginner, at level 1, I would squeeze and hold for a count of 3, then relax for a count of 8, then repeat 8 times. This seems like a lot to remember. How long to squeeze, how long to relax? But sure enough, the app gave off a little beep and vibrated to prompt me. Wow, they have thought of everything.
Motivation and feedback
I was also surprised by how much the visual feedback helped motivate me to work a little bit harder and a little bit longer. It wasn’t long before I could see the improvement, not only in the strength of the muscle contraction or squeeze, but also how long I could hold the squeeze.
Sexual function may also improve
Another benefit to strengthening the pelvic floor muscles besides helping with leaking, is an improvement with sexual functioning. As I mentioned earlier, PeriCoach has just received an indication from the FDA that it can help with improved sexual functioning.
For years, I’ve been urging my patients to go to pelvic floor physical therapy classes and have made referrals for pelvic floor physical therapy.
What’s nice about PeriCoach, is that women can add this to any physical therapy they might already be doing, or they can try this on their own and use in the privacy of their own homes at their convenience.
Here’s a Coupon for PeriCoach!
I’m such a fan that I’ve been recommending PeriCoach to my patients and my women’s health colleagues for a few months. Recently, I’ve been in contact with the people working on PeriCoach and asked them to provide a $25 off coupon for any woman who wants to try it.
If you or someone you know would benefit from exercising with PeriCoach, simply go to www.pericoach.com and enter this discount code: NurseBarb when purchasing a device.
I hope my experiences have helped you. Here’s a link for information on Urinary Incontinence.
* Jana is not her real name
Disclosure: I received a PeriCoach in May, 2016 and have been recommending it to colleagues and patients after trying it myself.