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Tens of thousands of women every day suffer from the misery of stress incontinence, a condition which costs the NHS in excess of £400m a year to treat. Now a new clinical trial of a simple medical device offers hope to women worldwide.

Bristol Urological Institute, one of the UK’s leading research centres in the field of urodynamics, is recruiting patients for a randomised clinical trial that could revolutionise the treatment of female stress incontinence - a distressing and socially embarrassing condition which affects half of all women.

Paul Abrams, Professor of Urology at the Bristol Urological Institute said: "It is 60 years since Arnold Kegel proposed pelvic floor exercises as a treatment for stress incontinence but a simple, effective method of putting all his principles into practice has eluded us.”

“The PelvicToner seems to meet all the requirements that Kegel envisaged - it is a simple, patient-friendly, progressive resistance exercise device and provides feedback to the patient that the correct muscles are being engaged.”

“Our specialists, led by Mr Marcus Drake, are undertaking a full-scale randomised clinical trial and are hoping that the results will confirm our optimism for the PelvicToner".

An initial small scale clinical trial in the US had very promising results. 87% of subjects showed improved Kegel tone after the programme – the average improvement in resting muscle tone was nearly 10% and in the active squeeze (Kegel tone) the average improvement was nearly 30%. As a result nearly 90% of the sample reported that their bladder problems were brought under control within a matter of weeks.

The BUI study will involve a considerably larger randomised sample and pelvic floor muscle strength will be measured before, during and after the 16 week programme to quantitatively compare the benefits of the PelvicToner with traditional conservative treatment methods.

The cost to the NHS of treating stress incontinence is estimated to exceed £400 million (Source:The Continence Foundation) but many millions of women suffer in silence and just treat the symptoms by using disposable pads - contributing to a long-term environmental problem.

One of the major issues facing the NHS is that whilst ‘traditional’ pelvic floor exercises remain the recommended primary treatment, and can bring cure or relieve in over 80% of suitable cases, the Continence Foundation and many health professionals recognise that they are rarely taught correctly and are rarely persevered with because of the lack of immediate benefit.

Squeezing thin air may bring some benefit after several months but, by comparison, nearly 80% of PelvicToner users become more aware of their pelvic floor after just one week and nearly 90% report improved bladder control within just 4 weeks.

Being able to recommend an effective exercise regime means that NHS budgets could be focussed on bringing faster relief to those with more serious complications and those requiring surgical intervention.

The PelvicToner is on general sale and costs just £29.99
Telephone information line and sales: 0117 968 7744



Barry Fowler, SPM Ltd, 0117 968 0171, 07768 233670,
Debbie Delgado, Research Coordinator BUI,

Notes to editors:

Stress incontinence is very common amongst women who have experienced natural childbirth and the natural stretching of the birth canal, menopausal women whose falling oestrogen levels have led to a natural slackening of the pelvic floor muscles, and women who have not maintained a regular effective programme of pelvic floor exercises throughout their lives. Unfortunately the latter situation applies to the vast majority of women!

For the past 60 years many health practitioners, physiotherapists, midwives and childbirth counsellors have failed to heed the advice of Arnold Kegel that there should be a resistance to squeeze against and a positive feedback that the correct muscles were being engaged. The result is that stress incontinence is now a global problem affecting half of all women.

For any exercise to be effective the muscle must be worked regularly, repetitively and against resistance - the essential 3 Rs!

Imploring women to squeeze their pelvic floor against thin air and to 'exercise' whilst vacuuming or waiting for a bus is not only a complete waste of time but also totally demoralising. In the absence of a rapid improvement in their condition most women become frustrated and give up exercise altogether.

Arnold Kegel recommended his pelvic floor exercises to treat stress incontinence in 1948 and then published further research in 1952 suggesting that lack of pelvic floor muscle tone was a major contributor to ‘female sexual dysfunction':

“Observations in [more than 3,000 women,] both parous and nulliparous..., ranging in age from 16 to 74 years, have led to the conclusion that sexual feeling within the vagina is closely related to muscle tone, and can be improved through muscle education and resistive exercise." “78 of 123 women complaining explicitly of sexual deficits achieved orgasm following the training”.
Arnold H. Kegel "Sexual Functions of the Pubococcygeus Muscle "Western Journal of Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 60, pp. 521-524, 1952

The PelvicToner is an highly effective progressive resistance vaginal exerciser specifically designed to meet Kegel's criteria.

* 92% of PelvicToner users reported greater awareness of their pelvic floor after just 2 weeks
* 87% of PelvicToner users reported improved bladder control within 4 weeks
* 80% of PelvicToner users reported an improved sex life within 4 weeks
(source: 2007 user survey)

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