Presented by Plan B One Step
Is there anything millennials fear more than emotional intimacy? *Does an audit of my entire life thus far* Definitely not. There’s nothing more grave than the pit you get in your stomach the moment you send someone a “we need to talk” text. Except, I guess, the pit you get in your stomach when you have a birth control slip-up, like a condom breaking. As someone who used to agonize for days over what to wear for a casual night at the bar I knew I would only spend two hours at, making the decision to take Plan B after a night of failed birth control was…nerve-wracking, to say the least, when I did it the first time. I’d heard all the misconceptions, like that it has a bunch of side effects, and that it would f*ck up my ability to get pregnant later on—which is not something I want to do (even if I don’t want to get pregnant right now). But we live in the age of the internet, which means that instead of anxiety-texting an itemized list of those worries, I just went online to learn more and realized how misguided I was. Plan B’s main ingredient has been used in birth control pills for decades, and taking it won’t mess with your fertility. I also learned that Plan B won’t hurt my chances of becoming pregnant later on; it temporarily delays the release of an egg from the ovary after taking the pill so I don’t get pregnant right now.
So, the process of taking Plan B was not intimidating for me at all, since I knew the facts. I took it right away (by the way, you have 72 hours to take it, but the sooner you take it the better it works) and then I went about my normal life—without getting pregnant. Thank goodness. Which got me thinking: of all the things to be nervous about, taking Plan B after the condom breaks or accidentally skipping a pill or another kind of birth control slip-up shouldn’t be one of them. Not when there are plenty of other more anxiety-inducing issues that pop up in life, like…
1. Having A “What Are We?” Talk
I would so much rather walk up to a checkout counter, hand them a credit card, and take one pill than actually have to do the whole “what are we doing?” song and dance with whoever I’ve been seeing (in a fantasy world in which I am actually dating). What’s the worst that can happen, you ask? Uhm, crushing rejection? An ambiguous answer that will keep you on the same cycle of non-commitment that you’ve been in for the last six months? No, thanks.
2. Meeting The Parents
You could be a doctor who won the Nobel Prize and moonlights as a supermodel, and meeting the parents would still be stressful af. There are the obvious what-ifs: they don’t like you, you accidentally offend them somehow and because of that, they don’t like you, you have something stuck in your teeth so they think you have poor dental hygiene and don’t like you…Sensing a theme here?
3. Actually Cooking For Myself
“It’s easy!” they say. “Just follow the recipe!”As someone who regularly f*cks up hard boiled eggs because I get absorbed in another task while waiting for the water to boil, cooking for myself is easier said than done. There’s a lot that can go wrong when attempting to cook, and that’s not even counting the very real probability that the food can come out bad. Like, I could burn myself. Burn down my apartment. Chop off a finger. Chop off a limb—you get the idea. Better to leave it to the professionals (I say as I hit “check out” on Seamless for the third time today).
4. Doing An Exercise Video…
…and I mean actually doing it, not just laying on the floor. I know, the horror! Workout classes are supposed to reduce stress (and sure, I feel better afterwards), but the actual process of doing the class is often anything but stress-free. I never know what’s going on, and I feel like everyone else in the class had a meeting beforehand to nail down all the movements and flow and I missed it. What comes after burpees again? Plus, while everyone else looks like they’re going on a leisurely stroll through the park, I am huffing and puffing and pouring sweat from the face. I don’t think I’ve ever completed a workout class not wondering WTF was wrong with me… and that’s why I’d rather just lay on my mat, pretending to do the work.
5. Trying On Your Jeans For The First Time In Six Months
If you’ve been wearing pants with an actual button or fly during this period where nobody has anywhere to go, I’m not sure if I should be scared or impressed. Actually, I’m going to go with terrified, because nobody with that much discipline can be trusted, as far as I’m concerned. For the rest of us who have spent the past five or so months sitting on the couch in leggings, convincing ourselves that chips are a balanced meal, the time when we’ll have to put on jeans again is definitely not something any of us are looking forward to. Better to just throw the jeans away than deal with that stress, IMO.
As you can see, there are plenty of other potential issues you can encounter that are way more stressful than taking Plan B when you don’t have the facts. If you have birth control failure or unprotected sex and need to take emergency contraception, you can rest assured knowing that Plan B is the #1 ob/gyn recommended emergency contraception brand, and that it helps prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or birth control failure. It’s not an abortion pill, but it does help prevent pregnancy before it starts by delaying ovulation (no egg + no fertilization = no pregnancy). You can get Plan B at all major retail stores (like Target, Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid), without a prescription—just look in the family planning aisle. No prescription, ID, or age requirement. You got this!
Image: jeshoots.com / Unsplash
Remember when people used to lift things up and put them down at Planet Fitness? Well, now they’re staying home to lift things… with their vaginas. No, we’re not kidding. Vaginal weightlifting is seriously a thing. As opposed to doing regular kegels like every other human, people with vaginas are attaching heavy objects to kegel balls to weight train their vag and pelvic floor muscles in order to get
tighter healthier faster. Need proof? Go check out the Instagram hashtag #thingsiliftwithmyvagina. I understand if you don’t want to believe it, but this is literally real.
View this post on Instagram
#thingsiliftwithmyvagina⠀ ⠀ Those bottle caps don't untwist themselves, you know. ⠀ ⠀ See my previous post for the benefits of a vaginal weight lifting practice. ⠀ ⠀ Hint: You'll win all the challenges. ⠀ ⠀ Lifting wind chimes in Bali. ⠀ ⠀ Cause my vagina makes noise!!! ⠀ ⠀ #vaginalkungfu
Naturally, we have some questions about these exercises, like “why” and “how” and “who the hell thought of this?” But we also have other, more legitimate questions, like is vaginal weightlifting actually a good idea? We interviewed the founder of vagina gym Kegelbell, Dr. Stephanie Schull, as well as O.school’s pleasure professional and pelvic health physical therapist at YouSeeLogic, Dr. Uchenna “UC” Ossai, to find out whether or not you should start weight training your most intimate muscles.
Who Can Do Vaginal Weightlifting?
So she was packing. Maybe she was trying to protect her reproductive rights. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Also: keep the safety on and don’t Kegel. https://t.co/W1U1WEyQUC
— ??????? ????? (@shannynmoore) April 28, 2018
First and foremost, are kegels only for people with vaginas? Good news: Any human can do pelvic floor exercises because everybody has a pelvic floor. Whether you’re 19 or 91, you can start kegeling. Yay, equality!
HOWEVER, there are situations where pelvic floor exercises either must be done under supervision or can’t be done at all. Dr. UC says that without a postural and pelvic floor muscle assessment, it’s hard to say if they’ll be beneficial for you. “Depending on your medical condition, you may need to be doing the opposite of kegels. A general rule of thumb is if you have constipation, difficulty emptying your bladder, pain with sex, or any other pelvic pain condition, pelvic floor exercises are typically not recommended.” Schull adds not to use vaginal weights if you’re pregnant, gave birth less than six weeks ago, have a vaginal infection, 3rd or 4th degree pelvic organ prolapse, or have had pelvic surgery in the last three months. Don’t fall into any of those categories? Kegel away.
How To Do It Safely
hey bro will you spot me on these kegels?
— clara’s tw*tter (@ramencult) July 25, 2019
My preferred form of exercise is to practice breaking limbs and choking people out (aka Brazilian jiu-jitsu), but safety should always be a concern no matter which workout you get into. Here’s how to make sure you’re killing the kegel game as safely as possible.
Kegel exercises, in a nutshell, involve repeatedly contracting and then relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. People have already been using Kegel or Ben Wa balls for centuries (why am I just now hearing about this?), and they’re basically weighted balls that you insert into the vagina before performing your exercises. There are also other products, like Kegelbell, that have an internal piece and then weighted pieces that are external—resembling the situation in the Instagram above, but a lot less extreme. You’re not just like, inserting a dumbbell into your vagina. Dr. UC says you can’t do these exercises in the mirror at the gym without getting arrested for indecent exposure…so do this sh*t in the comfort and isolation of your home, please and thank you. No one wants to see you weight training your vag next to the dumbbell station at the local gym.
And for those who don’t know (@ me), kegels are way more involved than just clenching. They require proper form and careful instruction like every other workout. Both experts agree that most people do them wrong by holding their breath, arching their back, clenching their jaw, overusing their abs, butt, or legs, or only focusing on just the vagina or anus instead of all three sphincters (the urethra needs to join the party too). Since weighted kegels are way more intense than normal ones, Kegelbell offers instructions on their website with PG-13 videos and guidelines on how to train correctly so you don’t get hurt.
Just like when you’re shopping for sex toys and tampons, you’ll also need to watch out for unsafe products you probably shouldn’t be using. Schull says that some V weights on the market are made of unhealthy materials and include dangerous instructions to wear them for hours or use them for 100+ minutes every week, “creating an unhygienic situation in a place where you definitely don’t want that.” YIKES. But Kegelbell is FDA-registered, made of medical-grade silicone, and the only kegel-assisted weight that stays OUTSIDE the vagina (the attached bulb is the only part that goes inside). Either way, whether it’s a Kegelbell, a dildo, or a menstrual cup, always make sure you wash whatever you plan to stick up there with fragrance-free soap and water before you stick it up there.
So Is This Actually A Good Idea?
To answer the main Q here, should we be doing weighted kegels? According to Dr. UC, who treats people with sexual and pelvic floor dysfunction for a living, the short answer is (generally) nope. “It reinforces the idea that the key to good orgasm or vaginal sex is a “tight vagina,” which is completely inaccurate. “It also lends itself to unnecessary injury, bad movement habits, or faults without proper supervision from a licensed medical provider.” She does vouch that Kegel exercises in general can enhance your sex life, though, among other things. “Having a coordinated and strong pelvic floor can help stabilize your spine and improve pelvic girdle pain, bowel, and bladder function, as well as your sexual response.”
But it’s not just about a tight vag or better sex to Schull, who created Kegelbell after watching her mom experience the pain of pelvic mesh surgery. “How do we expect women to get into the boardroom when we can’t even help them get out of the bathroom? a natural, effective, and safe way for women to strengthen their muscles so they can stop worrying about leakage and all the other side effects of weak pelvic floors and get back to the life they love.” Cheers, sis.
Research shows that pelvic floor exercises (like weighted kegels) offer lots of health benefits inside AND outside the bedroom. They can help to straighten your posture, keep you from peeing when you jump on a trampoline or laugh too hard (embarrassed to admit at age 26 I have the *worst* bladder and do both of these things), and prevent internal organs from failing…which definitely sounds important. And yes, kegels promote intense orgasms, increase natural lubrication, and enable a stronger “squeeze and release” to amplify sensations during penetrative sex or masturbation. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Schull claims kegeling can even boost your confidence. “When you have a deep connection with these important muscles, and they are strong, it gives you a profound sense of power. Feeling stronger and more in tune with your body is never a bad thing!” *immediately starts kegeling to gain power and increase crippling low self-esteem*
After speaking with both of these experts, it seems like vaginal weight training can be a good idea as long as you’re smart and safe about it. When done correctly and consistently, weighted kegels are just super-kegels that work to keep your pelvic floor healthy, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and treat or prevent any related dysfunctions down there. But you don’t really need to add weights necessarily to get these benefits. Whatever you do, please don’t add these exercises to your circuit at the normal gym unless you want to get banned from your local Equinox (maybe not a bad idea, considering current recent events tbh).
Images: Kegelbell, GIPHY, Twitter @ramencult, @shannynmoore