When women want to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles they usually do Kegels, exercises where you repeatedly contract and relax the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor. But sex expert Layla Martin recommends a different type of workout to her clients— vaginal weightlifting.
Martin, a Stanford University graduate who focused on immunology, behavior and sexuality, completed a 21-month Tantric Yoga program in 2013 and a 500-hour Tantra teacher training certification in 2016. She first learned of jade egg use in Thailand and did her jade egg teacher training through Tao Tantric Arts under female teachers with over 30 years’ experience. Tao Tantra focuses on preserving sexual-creative energy, according to the Tao Tantric Arts website.
Using a tool called the jade egg, Martin teaches women how to lift 1 to 3.5 ounce weights with their vaginal muscles, which she claims will strengthen the pelvic floor and help with several health issues including incontinence, post birth-rehabilitation and uterine prolapse.
Uterine prolapse occurs when the muscles that support the uterus become lax, allowing the uterus and cervix to protrude through the vagina. Symptoms of uterine prolapse can include urine leakage or retention, constipation, problems with sexual intercourse and seeing the uterus or cervix coming out of the vagina.
About 30 to 40 percent of women will develop some form of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime, according to a 2014 study published by F1000Research.
While vaginal weightlifting sounds like modified Kegels, it may help with prolapse by tightening pelvic floor muscles, said Dr. Kecia Gaither , an OB-GYN in New York City.
"Your pelvic musculature supports the pelvic organs, your bladder, your rectum and by doing a series of exercises, it helps to strengthen this to prevent prolapse, or basically your organs slipping through the musculature," Gaither told FoxNews.com.
To use the jade egg as a strengthening tool, the user attaches a string through a tiny hole on the narrow end of the egg, then inserts the opposite end into her vagina. She can then attach a weight to the string and uses the jade egg to engage her pelvic floor and deeper muscles in the vaginal canal to lift the weight. Recommended exercises include hip corkscrews, pelvic swings and egg pull-ups and push-downs.
“[You’re] working on the ability to pull in and up with the egg so eventually you can move the egg through the vaginal canal,” Martin said. “It really builds the muscular systems ability to pull up, which is really helpful for prolapse.”
Martin recommends lifting with the eggs three times a week for about 10 minutes.
“You can actually pull your muscles or overdo it just like the gym and experience soreness, so it’s really important to start light and then build up with more intensity,” Martin said.
After the birth of her first child, 34-year old Sarrah Bolin suffered from uterine prolapse.
"I was definitely frustrated and I also considered the option of possibly having surgery,” Bolin, of Austin, Texas, told FoxNews.com.
Treatment options for prolapse include a vaginal pessary, which holds the uterus in place, and surgical repair of the damaged tissues.
Bolin's doctors recommended she do Kegels, but when her symptoms continued to progress she tried vaginal weightlifting. After a few days of lifting, Bolin noticed more strength in her vaginal muscles and within a couple of weeks, her prolapse symptoms were gone.
"It has helped tremendously. My vaginal muscles have strengthened and they continue to," Bolin said. “I use the jade egg every single day and after a few days of using one specific weight, I’ll be able to increase the weight limit.”
Strengthening the vaginal muscles can also help a woman's sexual health.
“By increasing your tone, you increase the pleasure when you have sex to enhance your orgasmic experience,” Gaither said.
While Martin teaches some of her clients to use vaginal exercises for specific health conditions, she also offers a class for women looking for more passion and pleasure in their sex lives.
“A lot of women don't pay attention to the deeper vaginal muscles but those are the source of a tremendous amount of pleasure and even cervical orgasms,” Martin said. “You do work with the jade egg deep inside in the vaginal canal and really learn to access those deep vaginal muscles."
Martin does not advise women who are pregnant or suffer from frequent yeast infections to weight lift.