Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy New Year, 2015! The Year of Skea!

Happy New Year, guys! Are you just as disappointed in me as I am that it's taken me two whole weeks into the new year to write a post? I apologize for that. This sudden slam of winter cold has made me want to do nothing but snuggle up under every blanket I can find and watch Netflix.

So, it's 2015! I know most of you out there are all, "I can't believe it! Time goes by so fast!" I know, I'm saying the same thing. It's crazy! I was originally going to make resolutions but quickly remembered how lazy and unmotivated I am. Instead of making cement resolutions, I decided to just try and be healthy and energetic whenever I can. So far, not so good. I have my little bursts here and there, but nothing to brag about. Two things I am trying to make a consistent effort to do are 1. write more blog posts, and 2. keep track of my sex life! When I say keep track I mean not only keep track of how much sex I am having, but also staying open and trying new things whenever I can. Speaking of new things...

Ever heard of Kickstarter? It's a website that funds creative new projects that people come up with! Some of the coolest parts of Kickstarter are that backers (people who donate to a cause) don't lose their money if the project doesn't meet their goal, and that backers who donated to a successfully funded project usually receive some kind of thank you gift based on the amount they donated.  Remember the show Veronica Mars? Fans were devastated when it was cancelled. Kristin Bell (who played Veronica) and Rob Thomas (Mars' showrunner) attempted to raise $200,000 through Kickstarter to make a movie to wrap up the show. Fans donated $5,702,153, and the movie was released in 2014. People set up all kinds of projects on the site, including video games and electronic devices. One such device has recently caught my eye, thanks to a link from a loyal reader!

The device is the SKEA--an acronym for 'Smart Kegel Exercise Aid.' Watch the video below to hear from some of the important people who played a huge role in its creation.

Linkcube, the company behind the device, describes themselves on their Kickstarter page as, "a wearable electronics studio [...] based in Beijing, China. [...] Our philosophy is simple: important but boring activities should be made more fun! Our vision of the future is one with ubiquitous gamification, where people love doing what is good for them! And it starts with pelvic muscle exercise!" Tom Chen created Linkcube, after working several jobs that led him to his calling. 

Alright, so what exactly is this? It is a device to aid in the exercise of pelvic muscles. Why is this important? According to the American Urogynecologic Society, one in three women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction! And even more, one in five Americans suffer at some point in their lives. Yes, that includes men. 

"Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) refers to a wide range of problems that occur when the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak, tight, or there is an impairment of the sacroiliac joint, low back, coccyx and/or hip joint. The tissues surrounding the pelvic organs may have increased or decreased sensitivity and/or irritation resulting in pelvic pain. Many times, the underlying cause of pelvic pain is difficult to determine."-Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, NYC.

Dysfunction of the pelvic floor can cause problems pertaining to the bladder or when having a bowel movement. It is the MOST common gynecological disease! Urinary incontinence is something we don't really want to think about, but it's more common than you might expect. It can commonly happen as a result of pregnancy/childbirth, which is what happened with Chen's wife. Your pelvic floor becoming weak means you have less control over your bodily functions and well, no one wants that. PFD isn't necessarily an easy fix, either. It's something you have to commit to. There are tons of different treatment options, but one way to try and prevent it is to begin strengthening your muscles now! Surely you've heard of Kegels--the exercise that includes squeezing and releasing your pelvic muscles (thanks for coining the term, Dr. Arnold Kegel!).Have you ever stopped peeing midstream? That's a Kegel! Take a minute--stop reading and do a Kegel. It's pretty easy, right? It's great for you to do! (Though it's actually not healthy to repeatedly do while peeing, so be careful there.)

The Skea is a device that helps strengthen these muscles. But how does it do it?

"Our solution is a video games that combines Kegel Exercise together. You play a special mobile phone game by wearing Skea as the controller inside your body. 
In this game, you play the role of Alice in Continent (pun intended!). Alice needs to constantly jump around to chase Rabbit Leg-pullers, dodge Lava Leaks, and collect Collagen Elixirs. How do you control the jump action? Not by touching the screen, but by using your pelvic muscles to squeeze on Skea! "-Chen

Whaaaaaaat?! You're saying I can play a video game AND exercise at the same time?! Mind=blown! Basically, you stick this cute little thing inside you and a sensor can feel your pelvic contractions, which then links it to your phone, allowing you to move your avatar in-game! And when you contract your muscles correctly, the biofeedback sensor in the Skea 'tickles' you! So not only do you get to play video games and exercise, you get some pleasure, too! Seriously, how great is this?

Want to know a cool fact, too? Studies have linked stronger Kegel muscles to better, more intense orgasms! And who doesn't want that?

The Kickstarter campaign asked for $38,000 for development. They received 484 backers and ended with $52,021 by August 14th, 2014. This product has been a hot topic on the inter-webs since it's campaign, and many people are excitedly awaiting it's mass release. According to the Kickstarter, they recently upgraded the design to the sleek black body with the silver middle, called 'The Black Swan.' Their most recent update says they are working on a stronger motor and options within the app to increase the 'erotic' function of the device. 

A few of the backers of the project have already received early releases of the Skea, and reviews look good. It is being compared to the popular phone app game Temple Run. The game tracks your progress so that you can see how far you've come, not to mention the fact that the game will become easier as you get better at exercising. 

Why am I so excited about Skea? For those of you who haven't been reading my blog since the start of it, I was diagnosed with PVD when I was 18. If you take a finger or two and insert them, nail down, into your vagina and curl it inwards, you should feel a lump that feels a bit like a spongy material. Mine felt like a rock. That is not normal, and it is painful. I had always wondered why I had to pee several times a day and why sex was unnaturally painful for me. Doctor after doctor after ER after ER mentioned the term 'STD' to me, before running multiple tests that proved them wrong. Shortly after being diagnosed with Vulvodynia, I was also diagnosed with PVD. I underwent physical therapy for months, including deep muscle massage, biofeedback, kegel and dilator exercises. It was suspected that my Vulvodynia and PVD was caused as a bad side effect of years on hormonal birth control.

Luckily, almost six years later, I do not suffer like I used to! But I need to still be aware that PVD is something my body once suffered with and could easily again. I think it is wonderful that there are people out there devoted to not only raising awareness to sensitive issues such as PVD, but that they want to create options to control and/or prevent it in a fun, creative, and pleasuring way. I can't seem to find a price or date for public release, but in the meantime, PLEASE visit the Kickstarter page about Skea and read even more about it. If you are one of the early test subjects of the device, please let me know how it is! Hopefully I can eventually write my own personal review of it.

Visit the Skea Kickstarter page here.