Pelvic floor disorders and female urinary incontinence are not new health issues. In fact, a third of the women across the world struggle with bladder leaks, often as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. That number balloons to 1 in every 2 women, when you’re talking about those over the age of 50.
What has changed is the conversation and the technology. A glance in the pages of the top women’s verticals and websites over the past couple of years, from Cosmopolitan, to Glamour, to Woman’s World will show more articles about pelvic floor disorders, and the treatments and therapies available to women, than ever before. The stigma of these conversations in the public sphere is thankfully evaporating, and mainstream media has noticed.
Fortunately, the technology has evolved as well, giving women many more options than wearing pads, adult diapers or undergoing risky surgeries. This gap in the marketplace is precisely why Gloria Kolb and I invented ELITONE. ELITONE is a wearable, non-invasive pelvic floor exerciser that uses electronic stimulation to target and activate pelvic floor muscles the same way Kegel exercises help strengthen control of those muscles. Only ELITONE’s device is external and does the Kegels for you, better and more consistently than women can do themselves.
ELITONE is a leader in what is becoming a wide and varied market for pelvic floor and incontinence devices. It’s important to understand their differences, strengths and limitations.
A Kegel trainer is a small device that gets inserted into the vagina to aid in exercising the pelvic floor. These can be low-tech Kegel weights that simply train the user to isolate the correct muscles to properly perform Kegel exercises. There are also smart Kegel devices that include a biofeedback component, often in the form of an app that encourages proper technique, and consistent use, and lets the user track improving pelvic floor strength. The downside, however, is that they can be uncomfortable to insert vaginally and bring a risk of infection. Even with the smart design, these trainers still require the user to do all the work, and many women find it is still a challenge to exercise the correct muscles. Additionally, most of these devices are not considered medical devices and are not FDA cleared as incontinence treatments.
Internal Stimulation (Intravaginal Probes)
There are a number of Kegel exercise devices on the market that fit into the category of intravaginal probes. These insertable devices, originally only used in medical offices, pass a small electrical current across the vaginal wall and into the pelvic floor muscles, causing them to contract. Like the Kegel trainers, they pose infection risk, and many women find them uncomfortable. The devices are now approved for home use, and are clinically proven to prevent or stop bladder leaks when used consistently. However, they are still invasive by definition, and require a dedicated time and private place for the user to lay down for the duration of the therapy. Not surprisingly, many women are hesitant to adopt these treatments, even with the recommendation of a healthcare provider.
External Stimulation (ELITONE)
Thanks to a new product category created by FDA, ELITONE became the first-of-its-kind automatic pelvic floor exerciser to use perineal applied electrical stimulation externally. The electric stimulation works similarly to the intravaginal probes, but ELITONE’s disposable GelPads are worn like a thin sanitary pad, and adhere gently to a woman’s skin, but discreetly under their clothes. The transcutaneous delivery is made possible by a specialized waveform. The FDA-cleared therapy takes only 20 minutes a day, and studies have shown 95% of women who used ELITONE successfully reduced (or eliminated) urinary leaks, with an average reduction of 71% after just 6 weeks of treatment
There is no prescription required to start using ELITONE (elitone.com), eliminating another barrier to use and consistent adoption. The ease of use for these devices is critical, as women are far more likely to continue treatments if they are simple and comfortable to use, they don’t disrupt their daily life, and most importantly, if they work.
Other Stress Incontinence Treatments
The industry is continuing to develop and evaluate technologies for treating stress incontinence. This interest in an area that mainly affects women is long overdue. Treatments include surgical interventions with polymeric slings, injectable bulking agents, laser/RF energy delivery to thicken the walls of the urethra, and electromagnetic pelvic floor stimulation among others. These offer varying degrees of clinical efficacy, risk, and potential to overcome historical challenges with patient access, adoption, and compliance.
At Elidah our approach has always been customer-centric. Our female CEO instills the importance of understanding the needs and challenges women face in treating these conditions. Accordingly,we are highly focused on convenience, comfort, access and other factors that drive adoption and treatment compliance.
One of the biggest hurdles apparent from interviews and published research, has historically been that women were hesitant to discuss incontinence treatment with their healthcare providers, and doctors were inconsistent in asking about incontinence unless the patient first brought it up. Women often cited how they were too busy to visit a clinic for treatment, which typically involved weekly visits for several months. Consequently, it’s very common for women to seek out solutions they could self-administer at home. We wanted to provide an effective solution that met them where they are. That informed our product design, our brand messaging, and our decision to pursue over-the-counter clearance.
We founded ELITONE to provide a better option for women who suffer from this issue that until relatively recently, just wasn’t openly discussed outside of doctor’s offices. Now women from postpartum, to menopausal and everything in between have an effective, non-invasive solution to live their lives leak free.
Editor’s Note: Eric Kolb is the co-founder and CTO of Elidah, Inc. Elidah developed and manufactures ELITONE, the first non-surgical, non-invasive treatment to help the 1 in 3 women who suffer from stress urinary incontinence. ELITONE is a wearable therapeutic device that provides a comfortable, convenient, easy-to-use solution that has clear advantages over standard of care treatments. ELITONE is available without a prescription at elitone.com and at cvs.com.