Last month I learned via a Baby Center Twitter post about a new undergarment – The Panty-O – promoted to help “forgetful vagina owners” strengthen their pelvic floor muscles. Naturally, I looked them up…and ordered a pair.
Not because I have ever forgotten that I, a’hem, own a vagina (as if I decided to buy one on my Sweet Sixteen). In fact, I was with my brother when I saw the post and he thought the entire premise of that teaser line so absurd, commenting about how such a line would never work “with dudes. No dude I know ever ‘forgets’ about his stuff…”
Moving on – these Panty-Os come decorated with Swarovski crystals on the outside and a silicone protrusion from inside the crotch (known as the Panty-O Exercise Extension). Yes, indeed, the entire premise behind them is that if we VOs place the silicone extension in our vaginas we will be able to exercise our pelvic floor muscles more regularly and properly.
Setting aside any concerns I have regarding hygiene, and the fact I stumble over how this logic hasn’t been applied to other typically-weak areas of the body (seriously, ever heard of the Upper Back Strengthening T-shirt? Didn’t think so…there’s a reason…), I have two main points to make.
- The premise of the Panty-O is based upon a limited and inaccurate understanding of the function of the pelvic floor and how to address its training. The pelvic floor does not exist in our bodies in isolation and hence cannot be best trained in this capacity either.
- As far as I can tell, there is no one with a clinical background involved in the development of the Panty-O. It is such lack of clinical expertise in product development that leads to well-intentioned, but poorly designed products making it to market and becoming the latest fascination of an all-too-ready-to-buy-anything public. Clinicians, let’s step it up. To help make this point, see the following table:
|Designer of the Panty-O||Me|
|Fashion designer||Physical therapist practicing in female pelvic health, obstetrics, and orthopedics.|
|Based upon online description, “devotes her professional life to fashion design”.||I like fashion and style. I devote my professional life, however, to women: health, public service, social justice.|
|Mom of 4.||Mom of 3.|
|Founded her fashion design company for the sole purpose of bringing Panty-O to market.||Founded Share MayFlowers for the sole purpose of addressing the lack of information, dialogue and care in the areas of female pelvic and perinatal health.Would like to see Share MayFlowers panties come to market – a very appropriate brand-product match that serves to both promote and fund-raise for SMF. Win-win.|
That last paragraph on my side of the above table about Share MayFlowers panties? I’m serious. They’d be pretty, comfortable and help raise awareness not just about kegels (as the Panty-O purports to do), but about the importance of women prioritizing pelvic health because no one deserves the often debilitating consequences that come with fairly common, yet treatable conditions as a result of aging, pregnancy or childbirth. Stay tuned for those panties…