Reviews of At-Home Bladder-Conditioning Devices – Can They Help Bladder Leakage?

Dr. Joe Pazona

There are few things more embarrassing to a woman than unexpected bladder leakage. Wearing pads or leaving a luncheon to change your clothes is not fun. Unfortunately the U.S. healthcare system doesn’t make it easy for you to get the care you deserve.

Long wait times, rude office staff and distracted doctors? No thanks. Never mind insurance companies and absolutely zero transparency with the costs of medical services. It’s no wonder why women suffer in silence.

As a result, many women feel the need to take matters into their own hands. Honestly, I don’t blame you. With incredible innovations in home medical therapies, you may not even need a doctor to “fix your bladder.”

Before you go and spend several hundred dollars on something that may not work, allow our team at VirtuCare to guide you on the best bladder-conditioning devices. You’re not alone. We are here to help.

Bedwetting alarm

An initial web search for bladder conditioning devices will pop up some information on bedwetting alarms. These alarms are traditionally used to treat children with bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) when more conservative measures fail. If your intent was to help a little one with potty issues, we’ll do a quick review and then get to the adult content.

Original bedwetting alarms are pads placed on a mattress while the child slept. The main problem with these bladder conditioning devices is that the child has to leak a fair amount of urine to set off the alarm. A bit too late to solve the problem.

Newer bedwetting alarms are wireless and can sense smaller amounts of bladder leakage in the underwear. These bladder conditioning devices work best when combined with limiting nighttime fluid intake, urinating twice before bed, and treating underlying constipation.

Now that we covered the little ones, let’s discuss lady business devices:

At-home bladder conditioning devices

Kegel balls

This is where urology device meets sex toy. If you haven’t heard of these little guys then you’re probably not a fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Commonly referred to as Ben Wa balls (after Obi Wan Kenobi of Star Wars . . . kidding of course), these inserts are used to give your lady business and pelvic floor a supercharged work-out.

Kegel balls come in lots of shapes, sizes, materials and colors. The main purpose of kegel balls is to teach women how to perform a proper pelvic floor contraction. Once you learn how to squeeze the correct muscles, these “balls” (don’t get me started) will also make the “workout” more challenging.

Now don’t go walking around the entire day with these in place. You don’t want strange looks plus infections can occur. Remember, kegel balls shouldn’t be uncomfortable or cause pain. 

Bladder conditioning device grade B- :  Kegel balls certainly are tried and true. Other than insertion and removal, they don’t interfere with the daily routine. They can improve Kegel exercises but lack the sophistication of more modern bladder conditioning devices. 

Disposable vaginal inserts

One of the main types of bladder leakage is stress urinary incontinence. When a woman coughs, laughs, or exercises urine leaks out. This is caused by a lack of support around the urethra.

Vaginal inserts act to support the urethra which sits just above the vagina. Think of these as support beams that are holding up the roof in a house. With the insert in place, the urethra will now close shut when the bladder is stressed.

If you want to get technical, vaginal inserts are not bladder conditioning devices or bladder supports. They are urethral supports. It is the urethra that needs help holding in the urine

The vaginal inserts are made of various materials. For example, Impressa® is made from silicone and a non-absorbent polypropylene. Impressa® is meant to be in place for at most 12 hours.

The obvious downside is that they can’t be used while menstruating. Vaginal infections can be limited by not leaving in the inserts too long. Finally, vaginal inserts are a band aid approach. They don’t fix the underlying problem and require every day use to work.

Bladder conditioning device grade C+ :  Unless you’ve already failed some of these other options or you’re not a candidate for a minimally invasive surgical fix, we’d pass on vaginal inserts.

Hip trainers

Hello Richard Simmons, Reebok, and neon pink socks. It seems like every woman in the 1980’s was doing the “Thighmaster” or something similar. Now these thigh squeezers are back in vogue as bladder conditioning devices.

These are definitely marketed as hip and booty shapers primarily. Nonetheless, any exercises which engage the pelvic floor can potentially help your stress incontinence.

I’m not certain this would be my first choice for a woman interested in treating bladder leakage. Exercise experts also know that targeted or isolated therapies don’t burn fat in those areas. So if you’re looking to lose weight in the hips or booty, try time restricted eating and high-intensity interval training instead.

Bladder conditioning device grade D :  Let’s face it . . . these things are plain silly. They’re unlikely to help your bladder or your booty as well as other options.

Biofeedback devices

Biofeedback is the fancy doctor term for increasing awareness, typically with the help of a device, of proper movements or exercises. In this case you want to know if you’re performing Kegel exercises correctly.

These bladder conditioning devices are quite sophisticated. Vaginal inserts are synchronized with phone apps so you know when you’re performing “A+” Kegel exercises (e.g. Elvie, kGoal). The device can measure the force of the contract and even have different “difficulty levels” for all of the overachievers out there.

Biofeedback is a mainstay of pelvic physical therapy. Bladder conditioning devices with this option, are replicating some good practices and can definitely help.

They will require some dedicated time “alone” for proper usage. The investment might be worth it as women are leaving positive reviews of these devices all over the internet.

Bladder conditioning device grade A- : Biofeedback is the real deal. These devices might be worth the investment if you’re not quite ready for an in person evaluation.

Electrostimulating devices

For those women who like taking the elevator up one floor instead of the stairs, there are even bladder conditioning devices that will perform the Kegel exercises for you. Through an electrical stimulation these cause an automatic contraction of your pelvic floor so you don’t have to think about it.

There are two flavors of “stimulating” devices: vaginal inserts (I know what you’re thinking) and external stimulators (I still know what you’re thinking). There’s no doubt that ladies are “enjoying” these bladder conditioning devices for non-bladder conditioning reasons. But do they help bladder leakage?

One study observed over 300 women with different types of bladder leakage. Women used an intravaginal device, 20-30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 10 weeks (quite the commitment). At the end of the study the cure rate was 63.5% and the overall patient satisfaction rate was 83.6%. Pretty impressive results!

Which stimulating bladder conditioning device is better? A head-to-head comparison of intravaginal and external stimulation devices showed a >50% reduction in leakage for both devices. Results were better with the intravaginal device but lady business infections occurred in 7.7% of women.

Bladder conditioning device grade A- : Impressive results + I have to assume these are enjoyed by women. Only downside is the time commitment. 

Closing thoughts – bladder conditioning devices

I don’t know about you but this was fun. And I don’t even have lady business. It’s refreshing to see effective bladder conditioning devices on the market for women.

Healing doesn’t always require an in person visit with a healthcare professional. It can begin at home. If you need some guidance on bladder conditioning devices or other options for bladder leakage then we can help. A telemedicine visit with a VirtuCare urology expert is only a few clicks away.

Until then . . . let us know how your “bladder conditioning” is going . . . just make sure the kids aren’t home for this exercise routine.


Dr. Joe Pazona

Dr. Joseph Pazona is the founder and President of VirtuCare, a telemedicine solution for connecting patients with physician experts.

We’re here to help.

At VirtuCare, we believe that patients deserve direct access to the experts. There should be no gatekeeper standing between you and a healthcare specialist. VirtuCare puts you in control.

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