About Continence Stimulators
Continence stimulators are small battery operated units (like a TENS machine) that can be used to help your pelvic floor muscles to work more effectively. The units give a small electrical pulse to the pelvic floor muscles via either an anal or vaginal electrode. A programme can be chosen from a pre-set menu or ideally be created specifically for your muscles by a specialist physiotherapist or nurse. Pelvic floor muscle stimulation is very safe but you should not use these units if you are pregnant or have just had a baby in the last 3 months, have a pacemaker or are currently undergoing treatment or review appointments for pelvic cancer.
If you are unsure if this is a treatment suitable for you ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist continence physiotherapist or nurse.
Pelvic floor muscle stimulation is designed to help you do several things:-
- If you have a very weak pelvic floor, it will help you identify your muscles by stimulation
- Gradually strengthens them to a point where you can begin to make pelvic floor contractions yourself unaided
- Maintain a strong pelvic floor with weekly/monthly workouts
It is recommended that you use the stimulation unit at least every other day for up to 30 minutes. To begin with If your muscles are very weak you may only be able to use it for 5 or 10 minutes before your muscles get really tired; but with time you will be able to work up to a 30 minute treatment session. Some people find that their muscles recover quickly and they are able to continue with their own pelvic floor muscle exercise programme without using the stimulator, others either prefer to use the stimulator long term or find that they need to ‘top up’ from time to time as well as doing a regular exercise programme.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends the use of pelvic floor muscle stimulation to help with the training of very weak pelvic floor muscles.
Use of a lubricant
When you use the vaginal or anal electrodes, you will find it beneficial to use a lubricating jelly like YES (link). This makes it easier to insert the electrode and improves the performance and comfort of the stimulation.