These are the three devices tested: They are called Elvie Trainer, Perifit, Emy and have their own apps
When I sneeze, I lose urine.
This is as uncomfortable as it sounds, but I'm not the only one with this problem.
Urinary incontinence often occurs after vaginal childbirth due to a weakened pelvic floor.
Depending on the statistics, about every fifth or second woman who - like me - has given birth to such a child is affected.
Unfortunately, the problem doesn't necessarily go away on its own. Incontinence after childbirth is often a problem that lasts for years, as a study from Great Britain shows, for example.
The subject is still socially taboo, but not quite as much as it used to be.
This is also due to the fact that a market has emerged for devices that promise to provide relief through targeted pelvic floor training.
The pelvic floor training should not only alleviate symptoms.
It's marketed as part of a modern lifestyle: It's not just about bladder control, but also about a better attitude towards life and supposedly even a more fulfilling sex life.
The target group of the devices goes far beyond mothers.
Particularly interesting for me as a passionate video gamer: Some devices have games on board that are intended to make the so-called Kegel training entertaining.
The idea: once the pelvic floor trainer has been introduced, I can use my mobile phone display to follow how my muscles tense and relax as birds, balls or airplanes rise and fall in the air.
In any case, that sounds more exciting than an online postnatal course in which a moderately motivated trainer calls out to me »And now we stop pee, tampon and diaper«.
For this article I got three pelvic floor trainers with video game function.
With the Emy, Elvie Trainer and Perifit I did what I usually like to do as a games journalist: try out and evaluate games.
Here are my impressions from the world of pelvic floor games.
The games of Emy: mass instead of class
The Emy pelvic floor trainer app has eight "game universes" from which I can choose mini-games.
In a visually simple game, I steer a ball up stairs.
In the "amusement park" I work on a punching ball, throw darts at balloons or fish for ducks.
That sounds like a lot of variety, but almost everything plays the same way.
The mini-games visualize my contraction more than they really give me the feeling that I'm controlling a game with my pelvic floor.
Most of the time I feel like I'm on rails.
You shouldn't expect good graphics either, the Emy games look like a texture patchwork.
Even in promising-sounding universes like »Journey to Japan« and »Adventure« boredom is the order of the day.
I cut back a bonsai tree with hedge trimmers or arrange for a meditating woman to take to the air.
Alternatively, I have a woman jump over a river or a canoe down the river a little.
The playful challenge is zero.
It doesn't even seem like the development team themselves believe that their games will be played more often.
In one of the mini-games, I pull a treasure chest out of a ravine.
And even though I play the scene multiple times, the treasure is always the same - an orange diamond.
Personally, I would also prefer it if not all universes could be played from the beginning.
Then I would at least have been motivated by the idea of being able to unlock new tasks through constant training.
A few of the games leave me at a loss anyway: In a mini-game, I play a stork and drop babies over cozy mountain villages.
In another, I control a bee from flower to flower.
I don't know about other women who do pelvic floor exercises: But I don't need reproductive metaphors in games just because I control them in my vagina.
In the end, my verdict on the Emy is: the device does try to provide variety when it comes to game themes, but in the end I would have preferred to have played fewer and more exciting mini-games.
Elvie Trainer Games: Minimalist and soothing
The app for the pelvic floor trainer Elvie comes with a minimalist interface - and offers the right gameplay.
I can see my current progress on the start page in a timeline, and then I can start the training session.
The app has four skill levels - training, beginner, proficient and advanced - which I face step by step.
The exercises in the form of mini-games are almost identical in every level, only the degree of difficulty varies.
The character is a stylized diamond, which I control from left to right using the device inserted vaginally, like in a jump 'n' run.
By specifically tensing and relaxing my pelvic floor muscles, I let the diamond rise (tense) or fall back down (relax).
In the "Pulse" game, I have to control the diamond in zigzag movements and capture points by rapidly contracting and relaxing the diamond.
And when "pulling up," I have to hold it above a line or inside a raised circle for a certain amount of time.
The other exercises are very similar.
All this sounds unspectacular.
Combined with the minimalist look, this principle has its appeal, it has a calming effect on me.
The muted colors and the reduced environment within the app also remind me of indie hits like "Flower" or "Journey".
That's why I'm happy to use the Elvie Trainer again, it's sort of the walking simulator among the devices tested: not much actually happens, but it's fascinating to be in the game.
The games of the Perifit:
"Flappy Bird" and car races
The Perifit, which was once crowdfunded on Kickstarter, has a fairly extensive games catalogue.
His app contains twelve game categories, each with up to ten different scenes.
These must be unlocked one after the other and offer different landscapes and characters.
When I launch the software for the first time, I'm disappointed by the clichéd feminine aesthetics and the blaring background music of both the Golden Lotus and Gateway to the Clouds categories.
In purple-colored settings I collect golden lotus blossoms from the air in jump-'n'-run-style or control pink-colored clouds in order to bag rising diamonds and fend off stones.
The games of the later unlocked categories are more fun.
In »Space Odyssey«, I steer a spaceship between meteorites and can even shoot: by tapping on the display, I fire enemy UFOs out of the way.
And in »Sling Drift« I drive cars and drift around corners.
The larger the radii, the longer I have to tense my muscles.
In one category I can even play the mobile game »Flappy Bird«, which was extremely popular at times.
But my highlight is the »air fire brigade« category.
Here I steer a firefighting plane through rings over island landscapes in 3D to extinguish forest fires.
In between, I have to keep descending and collecting water from the sea in order to then climb back up over the mountains and treetops to fight the next fire.
Admittedly, I wouldn't be interested in such a simple flight simulator on the computer.
In the universe of pelvic floor games, however, »air fire brigade« is my number one, so the point for the best game goes to Perifit.
In general, his development team seems to have approached gaming as training most seriously.
An area with a lot of potential
Overall, the mass of pelvic floor games did not convince me, despite some nice ideas.
Sure, the game mechanics can't be as complex as in the games that are controlled with the hands on the gamepad instead of the pelvic floor muscles.
But most games should be a little more varied, challenging and visually beautiful.
In any case, I'm still waiting for a point-and-click adventure or a shooter that I can use with my pelvic floor.