Ben Wa balls, or Kegel balls, are small, weighted balls that a person can insert into their vagina. Some believe that these balls can help a person perform pelvic floor or vagina strengthening exercises. Others say that they can improve sexual pleasure. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
Ben Wa balls can range from the size of a marble to 2 inches in diameter. Some are made from metal, while others are made from lighter materials such as plastic, with metal ball bearings inside to provide the weight.
It may not be safe for people to keep Ben Wa balls inside their vagina. As a result, people who are looking to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles or improve sexual pleasure may benefit from alternative methods.
This article examines the alleged benefits of Ben Wa balls, how people might use them, and the associated risks.
Alleged uses and benefits
Some people use Ben Wa balls to help them perform Kegel exercises. These exercises can help strengthen a person's vagina and pelvic floor muscles. Doing so may help tighten the vagina, boost sexual satisfaction, and improve incontinence.
At the moment, there has not been very much research into the use of Ben Wa balls or similar devices for strengthening these muscles.
One 2013 review of existing research suggested that using weighted vaginal cones may be as effective as pelvic floor muscle training in the treatment of leaking urine.
However, it is worth noting that the studies the researchers included in this review tended to be small. The authors say that trials involving larger numbers of people might be necessary for the effectiveness of vaginal weights to become fully clear.
Some people also use Ben Wa balls for sexual stimulation of the vagina. Makers of the balls claim that they can improve arousal prior to vaginal sex, but there is no scientific evidence to suggest that this helps.
How people use Ben Wa balls
The makers of Ben Wa balls suggest that using them could help improve the pelvic floor muscle's strength and boost sexual stimulation. However, there is little to no evidence to support that they help in either of these areas.
Due to the potential risks of using Ben Wa balls, people may benefit more from trying Kegel exercises without these weighted balls, or by trying other forms of sexual contact to increase stimulation.
If a person decides to use Ben Wa balls, they should make sure that they have plenty of lubrication to help ease the balls in and out of the vagina and to improve comfort. They should have access to the string, if there is one, so that they can pull the balls out easily.
People should also make sure that both hands and the Ben Wa balls are clean before insertion.
When using Ben Wa balls for the first time, people should try them out for a short period, such as 5 minutes. By doing this, a person can be sure that their body will tolerate their use before trying them for longer amounts of time.
For Kegel exercises
A person should first become comfortable performing Kegel exercises without using Ben Wa balls. This can help prevent sprains or other injuries from overexertion.
Once comfortable with performing Kegel exercises, a person can add Ben Wa balls into their routine. To do this, insert the balls before starting the exercises.
To add Ben Wa balls to an exercise routine:
The user should lie on their back, lubricate the balls, and insert them into their vagina.
From there, they should squeeze their pelvic floor muscles around the balls.
Hold the exercise for about 5 seconds.
Release the muscles, rest, and then repeat the squeeze.
People should aim for five squeezes in a set and up to three sets per day.
For partner use
A user can insert the Ben Wa balls a few hours to a few minutes before engaging in sexual activities. Once they are ready for vaginal sex, the user or their partner can remove the Ben Wa balls.
If the user is engaging in anal sex, they can keep the balls inserted in their vagina. Keeping the Ben Wa balls inserted during anal sex pushes the balls against the most sensitive spots in the vagina.
People should not insert the Ben Wa balls into the anus. Instead, anyone who is interested in anal stimulation can look for balls designed specifically for this purpose.
If the user and their partner are comfortable with it, they can keep the Ben Wa balls in the vagina during sex. This may increase stimulation. However, the user's partner should be careful to keep penetration shallow and steady to avoid discomfort.
For solo use
People can also use Ben Wa balls to aid masturbation. To do this, they can move the balls in and out.
However, a more intense way to use them involves simply leaving them in place. When doing so, the balls may stimulate different parts of the vagina while the person moves around. Alternatively, they could increase the pleasure a person feels when exploring their erogenous zones.
To remove the Ben Wa balls, the user should lie down and add more lubrication. Once they have added lubrication, they should pull the balls out.
If the balls do not come out easily, the user could try to add more lubrication and then jump or move around. This movement may help force them out.
The pelvic floor needs to be able to relax and contract continuously. If a person has Ben Wa balls in their vagina for any length of time, they may prevent this from occurring, which could lead to health problems.
Before someone starts to use Ben Wa balls for exercises, they should consider the following risks:
discomfort or pain from exercise
tearing of the vagina
People may want to speak to their doctor before using Ben Wa balls if they have any concerns about these risks.
People should thoroughly clean their Ben Wa balls before and after use. If they do not keep them clean, there is a risk that future use could lead to an infection.
Users should also let their doctor know if they experience any of the following symptoms as a result of using Ben Wa balls:
discomfort or pain
Considerations for selecting Ben Wa balls
The most important consideration when it comes to using Ben Wa balls is the potential health risks. There are safer options available for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and boosting sexual stimulation.
If a person has decided to try using Ben Wa balls, they should then consider their experience level with similar devices, their comfort level, and what they are going to be using them for.
Typically, it is best to start with larger, lighter balls that have a string attached. These balls are easier to hold in position and remove.
Once a person is comfortable with using these balls, they can vary the sizes and materials the balls are made from. For example, a person may want to switch to smaller, detached balls. Alternatively, they might want to try metallic balls or heavier balls.
Balls made of glass, metal, or medical grade silicone that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have registered or approved are the safest to use. Balls made of cheaper materials carry greater risks to a person's health.
If anyone is unsure about using Ben Wa balls, they may want to talk to their doctor before using them.
Considerations for certain health conditions
A person should talk to their doctor about how Ben Wa balls may affect particular health conditions before starting to use them for exercise.
It is important to discuss Ben Wa balls with a health professional before use if a person:
has had gynecological surgery
is recovering from childbirth
has an intrauterine device
uses a menstrual cup
has an active pelvic infection or pain
Having one of these conditions increases the likelihood of experiencing pain or discomfort from using Ben Wa balls.
If someone uses Ben Wa balls and experiences unusual discomfort, they should stop using them and talk to their doctor.
The makers of Ben Wa balls suggest that they can improve sexual arousal, helping with partner and solo pleasure. They also suggest that using Ben Wa balls could help add intensity to Kegel exercises. However, no scientific research supports these claims at present.
Ben Wa balls come with several risks. Masturbation, other forms of self-pleasure, and standard Kegel exercises may be better options as a result.
However, if a person does decide to try using Ben Wa balls, they may want to start off with larger, attached balls. All users should make sure that they keep their hands and the balls clean when using to help prevent infection.
It is also best to use Ben Wa balls made of metal, glass, or medical grade silicone that the FDA have registered or approved. Cheap materials can put a person's body at risk, so choose with caution.
If a person experiences any discomfort or pain when using Ben Wa balls, they should stop using them and talk to their doctor about these symptoms.