One in four women suffer from urinary incontinence due to pelvic floor damage. Now a medical device which could help women strengthen their own pelvic floors is being trialled.
The FemFit – which works in a similar way to a Fitbit – would enable women to track their progress on a smartphone.
Pelvic floor exercises (aka kegels) have been around for years, but women often don't know how to perform them correctly, says Jenny Kruger from the Pelvic Floor Research Group at the University of Auckland's Bioengineering Institute.
The trials are currently focused on treating urinary incontinence, but the researchers hope the FemFit will eventually be able to track what is happening to a woman's pelvic floor over a lifetime.
Some women only become aware of their pelvic floor during pregnancy and with this device they could monitor how it responds to pregnancy and childbirth, she says.
The FemFit is a slim, silicone-based pressure sensor which looks a bit like a flattened out tampon.
It is inserted like a tampon and once it's in position you can't feel it.
"Women really need to take care of their pelvic floors. It's like any other muscle - we need to exercise it, and we don't," Kruger says.