You get what you pay for
October 07, 2011
So yesterday I was on twitter and saw a tweet from a woman talking about the EPI-NO – ‘great’ I thought…. The tweet linked me to her blog post where I saw that she was talking about how she thought the EPI-NO was a great idea but was expensive (I’ve heard that before but $200 for a product that can be used for 5 years isn’t expensive at all, especially when you consider that incontinence pad/products can run you over $1500 a year!) I digress… She went on to say that she had found an ‘alternative’ which she felt was just as good – this ‘alternative’ was a $20 inflatable balloon designed for anal sex.
I have a few problems, actually a lot of problems with this and I wanted to share my thoughts before anyone goes out looking for a cheap anal balloon to prepare for the delivery of their baby.
First of all, the EPI-NO is an approved medical device that has undergone rigorous testing and has met stringent quality guidelines to be used during pregnancy. The anal balloon has met no quality standards for use during pregnancy and was not designed for the purpose of pelvic floor health. Secondly, there is more to the EPI-NO then just stretching the perineum. That is of course the main motivator but most overlook the other benefits of the product - namely the biofeedback component that allows women to see the functional aspect of their pelvic floor - the ability to contract and the ability to relax.
Training with the EPI-NO has 2 phases – the exercise phase and the stretching phase. I call the exercise phase the up/down training – can you contract and move the needle up? can you relax and allow the needle to come back down. The up/down training is done daily for 10 minutes and can be started at any point in the pregnancy. It is also done postpartum, 6 weeks after birth, to help regenerate tone, strength, function and proprioception. The stretching phase is done daily in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy, also for 10 minutes, so in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy you will be using the EPI-NO for 20 minutes each day. The stretching phase is designed to prevent tearing and perineal trauma that can happen when the pelvic floor/perineum encounters immense stretching during delivery. The EPI-NO also comes with a measurement chart that allows you to see your progress. An anal balloon sex toy will provide you with no feedback as to the function of your pelvic floor, no feedback on your progress with the stretching, or on your ability to relax your pelvic floor.
The ability to relax is key when it comes time to deliver your baby(ies) and even with all the perineal preparation in the world, if you are unable to relax your pelvic floor when it comes time to push your baby out, you will be pushing against resistance and will be more likely to tear. As I said before, an anal balloon sex toy will be of no use in helping you learn to relax your pelvic floor.
After birth, the EPI-NO is used again for the up/down training and the great thing about the biofeedback gauge is that it helps women re-connect with their muscles when they may have lost some sensation or proprioception during birth. An anal balloon sex toy will be of no use in helping women restore function in their pelvic floor.
The EPI-NO is both preventive and restorative in nature and is designed to minimize perineal trauma and pelvic floor dysfunction. By using a product other than the EPI-NO (an approved medical device) to prepare your pelvic floor for childbirth is a major risk in my opinion.
Lastly, the EPI-NO is made of silicone and is free of BPA and latex. The anal balloon contains rubber, latex and phthalates – not what I want to be putting in my vagina especially when I am pregnant.
$200 may seem like a lot of money but that is the average price for a good pair of jeans these days and we all know that paying more for good denim is worth it! You get what you pay for. $200 for an EPI-NO will provide you with a great tool to help you prevent pelvic floor dysfunction and help restore function postpartum - it will save you money, pain and suffering in the long run which makes it a very worthwhile investment in your pelvic floor health.