Ben Wa Balls: Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know
The Debrief: Including how the hell to get the them out
As far as sex tips go, 'place two balls inside your vagina' sounds more like a teenage boy's misconception about intercourse than a recipe for pants-based pleasure. Nevertheless, ben wa balls (also known as kegel balls, jiggle balls or love balls) are a popular sex toy, and one many people use not just for fun but also as a form of exercise for the kegel – or pelvic floor - muscles.
What are ben wa balls?
There are many different types of ben wa balls – from remotely-vibrating ones to ones with adjustable weights inside and even ElectraStim ones that give your vagina little pulsing electric shocks (this is way less painful and far more sexy than it sounds, trust me). Your average common-or-garden ben wa balls, though, consist of two weighted balls that you put inside your vagina. Sometimes they're loose, other times they're attached to each other by string or a silicone case.
Once they're safely inside, you can use them either for exercise or for pleasure. Some people wear them out and about (don't go knickerless and sneeze at the checkout in Tesco!), other people like to wear them during foreplay or while they're masturbating. Some just like to pop them in and wear them around the house, using them as a means to exercise their kegel muscles. You clench your muscles to keep them in, so they help to tone those muscles. Like tiny, spherical dumb-bells for your vagina.
Do ben wa balls actually work to tone your pelvic floor muscles?
The boring answer is yes: as a muscle, your pelvic floor will become stronger if you exercise it. However, there's quite a lot to unpack when it comes to pelvic floor exercise, because for a long time the myth essentially stood that the 'tighter' you get your vagina, the better, and that's not really how it works.
Your pelvic floor muscle does some useful stuff: namely it helps you control your urine flow. If you've given birth, or as you get older and the pelvic floor muscle weakens, you may find it harder to control the muscles and so potentially develop problems with urinary incontinence. If you want to protect against this, doing some regular kegel exercises might be a good idea. Ben wa balls can help, because essentially wearing weights inside your vagina will exercise the 'squeezing' action of your pelvic floor muscle – a 2015 study found that women who performed kegel exercises with what the scientists euphemistically called 'spheres' reported more improvement in their urinary control than those who'd done the same exercises without them. Many people also report that training with ben wa balls or a similar product also increases their sexual pleasure – they have control over those muscles, and can use them during sex to squeeze and clamp. Personally, I love doing this – it's one of the few sexual tricks I can perform that still allows me to lie on my back and be a bit lazy for the rest of it. So your pelvic floor muscles can do good things for you.
However, bear in mind that you shouldn't be looking to simply achieve a really tight vagina, any more than you'd go to the gym with the intention of becoming a solid wall of human muscle. If your muscles are tight all the time, that may make sex more difficult or painful. The human vagina is a pretty awesome thing, and it is designed to stretch and accommodate. If you overtrain your pelvic floor muscle it can become stiff, and make sex more difficult. Check out this advice on kegel exercises from the NHS (start off gradually, build up slowly, and don't overdo it). And if you want something that guides you through it, these days you can actually buy 'smart' kegel balls like the Magic Motion – they come with a smartphone game which you control by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles. Excellent for nerds and people who are bored of Candy Crush.
Can you pee with ben wa balls in?
Yes you can. I mean, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it because if you do happen to drop them while you're sitting on the toilet you either have to reach into the bowl with your actual human hand and fish them out (especially awkward/unpleasant if you're in the toilets of your grotty local pub) or you have to wave goodbye to your sex-toy-cum-dumbbells forever. But yes, you can pee with them in: your urethra is located slightly above the vaginal opening, and doesn't interfere with it, so you can technically do all the things with your ben wa balls that you'd do with a tampon in.
How long can I leave ben wa balls in?
If your ben wa balls are made of a decent material (think silicone, or something completely non porous like metal or stone) then you can wear them all day if you like – just make sure you clean them thoroughly according to the instructions when you take them out.
Be really wary of ben wa balls that are made of anything porous – there are some super-cheap ones on the market where the balls are connected with an actual piece of string. Avoid these, not just because the string itself is impossible to clean and could lead to infection (tampon string is different because you'd never re-use a tampon), but because the string often isn't particularly strong. A boyfriend once bought me very cheap ben wa balls when I was at university, because neither of us knew any better, and when he pulled on the string to remove them it immediately snapped. Panic ensued, followed by a lot of fishing-around-in-my-vag to make sure I hadn't ingested it too far.
Can ben wa balls cause bleeding?
This is one of those questions that people apparently search for a lot, so it's clearly an important question to answer. But the answer is: they absolutely shouldn't. Any ben wa balls you use should be smooth and made of material that isn't going to cut you or in any way damage the inside of your vagina. Like other sex toys, to get them in initially you might want to use a little lubricant to make sure they won't tear or do damage to your vaginal walls. But if they're making you bleed, stop using them immediately and contact the manufacturer. It might be that you have a faulty pair, or that they are unsafe, in which case the manufacturer needs to know so they can rectify that asap!
Can you use ben wa balls while you're pregnant?
Yes, you can – although you need to be extra-double-triple sure that the ones you're using are made from safe materials (see above!) because obviously you want to avoid infection while you're pregnant. You should also avoid the more intense or kinky versions – like the ElectraStim jiggle balls mentioned above.
How do you get ben wa balls out again?
I've left the million-dollar question until last, because it's the one that put me off using kegel balls for quite a while (especially after the 'snapped string' incident). Ben wa balls should – note 'should' – be easy enough to remove. If they have a silicone string attached, it's just a question of pulling gently and they should slide out. If you are a ben wa balls beginner, then I strongly recommend you go for this kind rather than the loose stone or metal variety, for exactly this reason. More than once in my life I have placed balls or eggs of some kind inside my chuff only to swiftly panic about being able to retrieve them: if you panic then of course you involuntarily clench, and after that no one's getting them out again without the aid of a crowbar or a powerful Dyson.
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