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I Played a Video Game With My Vagina

Photograph by Getty Images/Hero Images

As a journalist, I’m used to receiving—and quickly deleting—unsolicited emails from public relations firms hawking the newest solutions to problems I never knew I had. But when a message with the subject “Canyon Vagina – What Would You Do To Make It Tight Down There?” recently popped up in my inbox, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t nervously scan my surroundings, worried that this was some sort of targeted pubic marketing scheme.

I mean, it’s not like you can shout towards my knees and hear an echo, but the fact is when one in four U.S. women struggle with pelvic floor issues, usually as a result of vaginal childbirth, who couldn’t use a little firming and toning?

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Unfortunately, for many moms, Kegels fall under the "Things We Know We Should Do, But Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That" category. Sure, we all know we should be squeezing at stoplights, but that would divert too much attention away from other tasks at hand like desperately fumbling though the CD case for the "Frozen" soundtrack or blindly swatting at the backseat, hoping to make contact with whatever is making that high-pitched wailing noise.

I didn’t reply to the Canyon Vagina email, mostly because it came from a company whose logo is ({¡}), but it reminded me of this crazy Bluetooth-enabled Kegel tracking gadget I’d recently been reading about called Elvie. Billing itself as “your most personal trainer,” the Elvie is an oval-shaped device that is inserted like a tampon and paired with your favorite smart device. Through the Elvie app, users are guided through quick exercises that employ real-time feedback in an effort to help you squeeze your way back to your college years.

It turned Kegels—a self-care task that women find so, so boring—into a fun game.

I’m semi tech-illiterate, so connection troubles during my first attempt had me lying in bed, arms outstretched and aiming my iPad towards my bikini area from all sorts of crazy angles; an outsider might think I was FaceTiming with my prison boyfriend and not furtively attempting to reinforce my vaginal walls.

“Please God,” I prayed, “don’t let the nanny walk in.”

Once my crotch Fitbit was working properly, the games began. A pretty apricot-colored gem appeared on-screen, prompting me to squeeze it hard enough to make it levitate. Once my baseline strength had been measured, I was presented with ten floating targets and asked to “hit” each one with the gem, using my vagina as the remote control. Next, I was challenged to squeeze hard enough to make the gem hover above an elevated horizontal line for five seconds intervals, a task that left me with the realization that I truly need this game—by my second round, I couldn’t lift the gem at all.

But much like any solid exercise program, my hard work started to pay off: After two weeks of consistent training, I had graduated from Beginner to Intermediate; my strength and speed progressed, but my endurance still needed some work. One of my favorite parts about Elvie? It turned Kegels—a self-care task that women tend to find so, so boring—into a fun game. (This is especially meaningful for children of the 80s like myself, for whom Frogger, Q*Bert and Tetris all hold a special place in our hearts.)

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Also, many women mistakenly think that if they don’t pee when they laugh, that means their pelvic floor muscles are strong like a bull, and they give themselves a free pass on Kegels. But when I spoke with Tania Boler, CEO of Chiaro (the tech start-up behind Elvie), she outlined all of the ways in which Kegels can make a woman’s life just a wee bit better. (See what I did there? Incontinence… wee… OK, forget it.)

“Kegels are the last uncharted territory in women’s fitness,” Boler says. “Everyone is into core training these days, but not many women realize that the pelvic floor is part of your core. We want to shift the way women view this part of their body because core strengthening has so many benefits—better back, better abs, better sex.”

The Elvie is available at elvie.com for $199. Pricey, yes, but considering the laser treatment from that Canyon Vagina email costs more than $1100 per 10-minute session (and, like glasses of wine, one is never enough—they recommend three or four treatments for the best results), a few hundos is a bargain. It shows up as a subtle teal icon on your phone and mine currently lives on my iPhone, nestled between Facebook and Monkey LunchBox.

Give it a squeeze. Trust me.

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