Wellness

Elvie: Why millions of women are playing mobile games with their vaginas

By Kitty Knowles 1 January 2018
Summary

This kegel trainer is loved by Gwyneth Paltrow, Davina McCall, and Khloe Kardashian.

What lies between a woman’s hips is awesome.  

Our vaginas provide us with sexual pleasure. Our uteruses can literally grow other human beings. And we have all the necessary organs to flush toxic waste from our bodies.

But we women face a problem – a hidden problem.

Too often pregnancy, or age, turns once magic feelings of awesomeness into shame, fear and discomfort. And no one’s talking about it.

In the UK alone, millions of women have urinary incontinence. Half of all women with children live with some degree of genital prolapse (where the uterus falls down or slips out of place).

Today, Elvie CEO Tania Boler is on a mission to crush the ‘taboo’ around women’s health and improve all our lives for the better.

Make no mistake: Her kegel tracker, the Elvie Trainer, is just the beginning.

What is Elvie?

Boler co-founded Elvie in 2013 after facing up to the realities of her own pregnancy.

“Just because I’ve had a baby I’m still a woman, I still want to feel good about myself, I want to feel healthy, I still want to have sex,” she tells The Memo.

So she designed a kind of ‘Fitbit for the vagina’ that not only makes all your ‘bits’ stronger and healthier but, in doing so, makes sex more pleasurable.  

The Elvie itself is a long slim egg, with a sperm-like tail – it’s just under 5cm wide, and around 10cm in length.

You simply place it inside your vagina, like a tampon, and contract your muscles to play game-like exercises on your smartphone.

Contract your pelvic floor muscles to lift a sparkly gem, relax to lower it. 

According to the company’s ICS approved study, an incredible 8 out of 10 Elvie users feel improvements – with 98% noticing a difference in less than six weeks.

“Often women might feel more confident or more in control just after using Elvie one or two times,” Boler adds.

Got game?

It’s Elvie’s game-like qualities that have been key to its success – massively distinguishing it from the “barbaric” medical devices and “gimmicky” sex toys women used to use, says Bowler.

“Imagine trying to train for a marathon and never knowing how fast you’re running or how far you’re running, there’s nothing to motivate you,” says Bowler.  

Instead, Elvie is about making pelvic floor exercises fun, by setting targets and goals.

“Our women now enjoy doing their exercises,” she adds. “They get quite competitive with themselves, they share with their friends – we’ve amassed quite a cult following.”

There’s no doubting the Elvie’s popularity. Within six months of launching, the company was turning a profit, making over £1m in direct sales.

Last year it received a further £5m in funding from Octopus Ventures (bringing its total to more than £8m). And today it’s even recommended by the NHS.

Even the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Davina McCall, and Khloe Kardashian are fans.

Breaking bigger taboos

Bowler is now addressing other overlooked women’s health issues, with a new device due for launch in 2018, and a further three planned for release during the next two years.

(Her next device is ‘not for vaginas’, she confirms, but it will help women in terms of confidence and empowerment).

The big dream is to move women’s health tech away from what Bowler calls “the pinkification of technology for women” – slapping existing tech onto a necklace, or bringing out a pink tracker in place of true innovation.

Today’s feminist push towards body confidence, the rising potential of the connected tech revolution, and our adoption of personal health management, are all supporting an industry in bloom.

MysteryVibe, for example, is a leading a focus of women’s pleasure, says Bowler, while Clue and Natural Cycles are revamping fertility, and Thinx period-proof underwear is redefining how we feel about menstruation.

Read more: The Clue period app is for you, your friends – and your man

“There’s a lot of startups really tackling these issues right now,” she explains.

“Why can’t we say the word vagina? Why can’t we talk about menstruation? These are very normal parts of being a woman.”

Here’s to helping all women feel awesome about their bodies once more.

Read more:

6 ‘Tampons of the Future’ that are bloody great