Photo: Shoshana Sperling
In an era when we are all trying to limit time our screen time, I find myself scheduling in a new video game. I even set an alarm so that Siri would remind me to play. I’ve never been good at these types of games, even though I had a thing for Ms. Pac-Man in the day (she was obviously a feminist) and I was sympathetic to Frogger (his goals seemed so counterintuitive to his species). But here I am, 48 years old, living like a stereotypical teenaged boy, playing vids in my basement in the middle of the day.
So what’s got me by the short and curlies? A sensitive mission. Very, very special ops. This was no Call of Duty but instead a mobile app that helps women overcome urinary incontinence (something I had an overflowing knowledge of). Besides, who says no to playing with their best friend?
A delicate white package was delivered to my door containing the most elegant little magenta phallus-like contraption that looked more like a smooth, curvy doll than a muscle training device. And to make the gameplay even smoother, disinfectant spray and K-Y Jelly also in the box.
Perifit is a new app that wirelessly connects your pelvic floor to your smartphone, and it’s designed to strengthen your nether regions. The device gauges how well you contract your pelvic floor muscles, measures their squeezability and sends that data to your phone. It’s a video game developed by physiotherapists and midwives for the vagina! You know the guys at the gym with the huge necks who always make you feel like you’re doing it all wrong? Well, now your pubococcygeus and iliococcygeus (or your inner-clam muscles) can get super pumped. The reward of this gameplay is that you’ll hopefully stop peeing your pants.
Getting your bush in shape has never been easier. It’s kind of a Fitbit for making your bits fit—but better. First, I had to set up my account and select a setting: pre- and post-pregnancy, preventative, urge incontinence, stress incontinence or intimate well-being (which I took to mean getting all beefed up for sex). I picked urge incontinence—it seemed like it might have more playability for me.
Now this was not my first barbecue. I’ve been taking my doctor’s advice for many years to avoid the “jumping jack juices,” the “trampoline trickle” and the “sneeze squeeze.” Most of the Kegel-like exercises are similar to interrupting a pee mid-flow as well as scheduled emptying, which really takes all the spontaneity out of it. It has its ups and downs but it’s not fun. Until this weird pink dildo doll came around I thought pee just ran downhill and there wasn’t much you could do about it.
This was very different. It was FUN! On my iPhone screen I saw my butterfly character flapping patiently as I inserted the pre-lubed pink doll into my fuzz muscle. The game instructed me to contract and release my pelvic floor muscles to connect to my on-screen character and begin my joyful journey. And joyful it was. The delightful music mixed with the popping sounds represented my vaginally-steered butterfly collecting fairy lights as it floated over graphics of a pleasant Dutch hillsides dotted with windmills and trees. NEXT LEVEL!!! Mountains, dark with the aurora borealis and now my condor(!) flapped to even braver heights. I killed that level. My fur purse was getting a high score and, not to brag, but I was a natural. Frogger can stick it. My vag could have devoured Ms. Pac-Man’s ghosts with a smile. A vertical smile.
While stopping and starting my urine flow was a little more like multi-tasking, this platform had a lot more playability.
Did it feel good? Like, solo afternoon delight? No. It’s a workout. Seriously. At times, I actually felt muscle fatigue and soreness setting in as if I’d done some serious ab work mixed with plyo-lunges. If you are looking for that good times feeling, this is the wrong pink thing for the job.
However, over the next few weeks I had a lot of technical difficulties. I’m not saying it wasn’t user-friendly but I am not intuitive when it comes to technology. It all confuses me as if I were a 90-year-old just hearing about the internets. While laying on my back in Pap-position, I kept losing connection to the device. I would move my hips to make my on-screen character change flight pattern instead of using my pelvic floor. I would instinctively put my phone as close as possible to my “playing arena” in hopes that it would help me recalibrate. I kept getting messages like, “Do you want to reconnect?” or “Try recalibrating.”
After a quick investigation of the app’s FAQs, I discovered that the white loop at the end of this tiny magenta wonder was depositing itself in my rear area and as a result, interfering with the connectivity and hampering my gameplay enjoyment. With that wee detail taken care of, my instincts kicked in.
I became so focused on my high score instead of the intended outcome, to strengthen my pelvic floor. Not only was I competitive with myself, but I was also intent on beating my vagina. Oh yes, I did make new muscles. The thing works. I was sure I could squeeze enough limes for a Thai dressing. I became toned.
But even though my beaver bulked up, and I saw the potential for successfully curbing incontinence with this app and its cute little magenta friend, video games are still super-addictive. And for me, more screen time, even with my cookie, isn’t personally what I’m looking for. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “The best activities for your health are pumping and humping.” If you have the time, the Perifit offers both.