By Gigi Engle
Remember the infamous kegel balls scene in the Fifty Shades of Grey series? The one where Ana wears them during that fancy party at Christian's family estate?
After a few hours (and glasses of champagne) she's basically coming in her bespoke dress. I don't know about you, but when I was reading that book I remember thinking this was a tad unrealistic. Is it really possible to wear a pair of balls inside of your vagina and bring yourself to orgasm (preferably while wearing an expensive gown)?
A few years later, skeptical about the sincerity of Fifty Shades, and far more interested in sexual myth-busting, I decided to put kegel balls to the test.
I began asking around. A sex-tech entrepreneur at a happy hour I was hosting couldn't stop gushing about how they'd made her orgasms more intense.
But how? On a basic level, kegel balls boast an ability to "tighten the vagina," a term which makes me want to commit murder. Being the cynical New York gal that I am, I had to ask myself: Are kegel balls and their promise of a youthful, tight vagina magical or just another product to exploit female insecurity about vaginas?
I talked to Claire Cavanah—co-founder of Babeland and feminist badass—to conduct some more research on the topic. Clearly I had completely freaked myself out at this point.
"Think of kegel balls as your ladybits exercise equipment," Cavanah says. "You can do strengthening exercises without them, but they might make your workout more effective. These are the muscles that wrap around your sex organs and the pelvic floor." She also noted that making the muscles stronger can lead to more intense orgasms, more bladder control (read: less pee when you sneeze), and an easier pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery.
As for why women should be wearing them regularly? "Kegel balls give you an object to focus on clenching and if you wear it while you go about your day, you will be putting those muscles to work the whole time," Cavanah says.
Out of the 9 billion different kinds of kegel balls, I tried out two.
The pair I was most excited about were the Scarlet Couture balls. They're red and black so I figured they were just like the ones Christian Grey asked Ana to wear. My conflicted feelings about the books aside, I was into this.
Also intriguing were the Je Joue Ami balls. I later learned from Claire that there are three sizes so you can work up to more hefty kegel balls and continue to challenge yourself. I got the largest, heaviest balls because I figured, "GO BIG OR GO HOME." I planned to have a vagina with the strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator years. Nothing was going to stop me.
It turns out, that is not how kegel balls (or anything, for that matter) work. I popped in the Je Joue Ami balls in bed and then got up to get coffee. I had used a Yoni crystal egg before, so I figured this would be a similar experience. I could never really feel the Yoni egg. It just dissapeared into the vast expanse of my vaginal canal never to be heard from again. (Just kidding. That would be terrifying.)
This time, the ball was too heavy for me because it moved down to the opening of my vagina very quickly and became pretty uncomfortable. I decided it was not the right choice for me and moved on to the Scarlet Couture balls. Looking back, I should have realized there were two other sizes for a reason.
I spent the next few weeks using the Scarlet balls for several hours each day. Occasionally you can feel them sinking down, but otherwise it's not that noticeable when they're inside of you. There's no need for lube to pop them in, either; you just lie back, push them in, and your vagina sucks them up. Graphic, I know, but this is science.
I was a bit anxious for the first few days of using them. I have an IUD and I kept picturing the long loop (meant for easy removal) attaching to the strings of my IUD and yanking it out of my uterus. Thankfully, this didn't happen. If you do have an IUD, though, consult your OBGYN before using kegel balls.
Sadly the kegel balls didn't bring me to orgasm the way E.L. James describes in Fifty Shades. I never once felt more turned on by them—but I am always horny, so my barometer could be off. It *did* make my vagina and pelvic floor muscles stronger, though, there is no doubt about that. I essentially have a vagina made out of steel now. Kegel balls are no joke.
The best part? You can't even feel it happening. It's like all those "5-minute abs" infomercials we used to see in the '90s, if they actually worked. We hit the gym to workout our muscles to be stronger, so why not workout the vagina?
After all my skepticism, I've found that kegel balls don't affect tightness in a slut shame-y, return-to-purity kind of way. It's more like a "my-vagina-could-kick-your-ass" kind of way. With that in mind, kegel balls are actually hella empowering. Kind of like when you go up a weight class on the squat rack, I felt like I was strengthening my body.
It all made me ponder vaginal birth and the wonderment of it all. For the first time in my life, I felt unafraid of it: My vagina could handle anything. I feel more in touch with and in awe of my moof than I ever have been. If kegel balls will teach you any one thing, it's that vaginas are amazing.
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