There’s a new fitness tracker on the market that isn’t worn on your wrist, arm, or waist—this one is worn inside the body. It’s called Elvie, and it’s a pelvic floor exerciser with integrated connectivity software designed to help women strengthen their pelvic floor muscles and help with incontinence.
Dr. Kay Crotty, physiotherapist associated with the project, says that up to 30 percent of women incorrectly use their pelvic muscles during kegel exercises by pushing down rather than lifting them.
As you perform kegel exercises using Elvie, which is worn inside the vagina, motion sensors gauge muscle pressure to generate a Levator (LV) score based on how well you lift your pelvic muscles, all while tracking your progress. You can watch biofeedback results in real time, right on the Elvie app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. The biofeedback results will show you when an exercise is being performed correctly. The app then can customize each of the five-minute pre-programmed workouts based on the results of your performance.
The device was developed by British tech startup Chiaro, in association with advisors from the University of Ottawa and Oxford University. It will be manufactured by the same people who make Jawbone wearable technologies and Beats headphones.
This technology couldn’t have been made at a better time. The American College of Physicians released new guidelines encouraging non-surgical methods for managing incontinence. This included more physical therapies, with kegel workouts at the top of the list. But pelvic floor exercises, which help strengthen the core, back and pelvis, are difficult because they’re a lot harder for men and women to tell if they’re doing them correctly. Now that internal muscles can be tracked as easily as a heart rate, there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more integrated devices on the market.
Elvie comes in two sizes to make sure you are most comfortable when performing the workouts. It comes with a discrete case that also serves as a charger (the company promises a battery charge that lasts up to two months). It is fully waterproof, has no exposed parts, and is easily cleaned with warm water.
Elvie has only been tested on 100 women, so more testing and product reviews are needed to determine how effective it is with different women. But, if you are thinking of adding any pelvic floor exercises to your incontinence therapy, it’s important to speak with your doctor or urologist first to find out what exercises are best for you.
Elvie will cost between $100 and $200 and will begin shipping in March 2016.
Kristina Brooks is a gluten-free digital editor at HealthCentral, with a background in animal biology, ecology, and health science. While studying broadcast journalism, she discovered the great need for health reporters that could translate research to the public. In her work, she hopes to use research to help consumers make smart decisions about their healthcare, and empower patients to stay confident and in charge of their chronic conditions. Kristina works on the HealthySelf newsletter, as well as HealthCentral’s MythWeek.