-- In a world where everyone from Fido to Great Aunt Fifi wears some variation of a pedometer or Fitbit, there are few workouts left that can't be tracked electronically. But soon, an oft-forgotten and perhaps unexpected exercise will be added to the list: kegel contractions.
Yes, kegel, as in a woman's pelvic floor muscles.
The kGoal Smart Kegel Trainer is a wearable device that allows women to track the number of repetitions, pressure applied and squeeze duration while contracting their kegel muscles. Like Fitbit, the information is communicated wirelessly from the device to an app on one's smartphone, where future workouts will be recommended based on user history.
"Pelvic floor muscles are one of the most important, but least appreciated parts of the body," said creator Grace Lee in a promotional video on the product's Kickstarter page. The kGoal "is like having a gym, a physical therapist and a tracking system in the palm of your hand."
The body wear comes in an array of colors and is comprised of a wide member that gets inserted into the woman's vagina, while a smaller arm rests outside of the body. Size can be adjusted to conform to the wearer, but the kGoal does not vibrate and is not intended for sexual stimulation.
Kegel exercises have long been encouraged by medical experts to help prevent urinary incontinence, prevent overuse during childbirth and enhance sexual activity. Prescriptive advice, however, can vary.
"There is no hard data on kegels in terms of recommendations for how many, how long, what age, etc.," said Dr. Jennifer L. Ashton, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor and an obstetrician-gynecologist. "The medical teaching is that, like most muscles, the more it's used, the better."
The Mayo Clinic suggests on its website that women incorporate kegel exercises into their daily routine, noting that "You can do Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, discreetly just about anytime."
But there are no guarantees that the exercises will offer an instant cure for incontinence or improved orgasms.
"In terms of preserving urinary continence, the value of kegels is somewhat controversial, but medically and behaviorally, they certainly can't hurt, and can possibly help pelvic function," said Ashton, who is not affiliated with the kGoal device. "I like the idea of an app, combined with a biotech device to help women with this! But only long-term studies will show just how useful it is."
Pre-sales of the kGoal Smart Kegel Trainer have already sold out, but when the device officially launches in December 2014 it will cost $125.