The Epi-No is a ‘pelvic-floor trainer’ that reportedly can prevent women from tearing during childbirth
It’s the final stretch.
Trolling foreign websites for sex toys probably isn’t how most pregnant women envision spending their last trimester—but there’s a gadget available overseas that has moms-to-be begging friends traveling abroad for a souvenir they can’t buy stateside.
Invented by German OB/GYN Dr. Wilhelm Horkel, the Epi-No is a pelvic-floor trainer that can prevent women from tearing during childbirth. On his website, Dr. Horkel says, “The human body performs more efficiently in any physical activity when the body has trained and prepared for it. Childbirth is no exception.”
When used daily for 10-20 minutes during the last month of pregnancy, the $200 hand-inflatable silicone balloon has been rumored to train a woman’s perineum to reach 10 centimeters, the magic number the cervix stretches to during a vaginal delivery.
For San Francisco resident Christine Leigh, using the Epi-No allowed her to deliver a healthy 11 pound, 2 ounce baby boy vaginally—without an episiotomy. “My OB/GYN and my birth doula recommended I use the device when they realized that I would be delivering a large baby,” says Leigh. Without it, she was told a C-section would be imminent.
After poking around online and realizing it wasn’t available in the US due to its lack of FDA approval, Leigh asked a friend in Ireland to purchase the contraption for her. “I’ve been told that you have to label the Epi-No as a sex toy in order to ship them to the US. Next time I’m abroad, I plan to buy a bunch of them as gifts for my pregnant friends,” Leigh explains.
Santa Monica-based OB/GYN Dr. Tristan Bickman has yet to recommend the Epi-No to her patients. “The idea of stretching [the perineum] gradually makes sense, but nothing can really mimic a head and the pressure it transfers to that area during childbirth,” she says.
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