What’s in the box, Gwyneth?

It’s a mysterious cylinder with a USB port and a bluetooth transmitter. Guess what it is!

It’s the Elvie Trainer from Goop! You’re supposed to slide it up your hoo-hah and do your kegels while an app on your phone reports on your strength and frequency. It costs $200.

You know, it’s not a terrible idea, unlike most of what sloshes around on Goop. It says it’s made of “100% waterproof medical grade silicone”, so it’s probably safe, if you keep it clean. Strengthening your pelvic floor is probably a good idea, and having an overpriced widget that gives you feedback might be useful.

I am entertained by the idea of broadcasting from your vagina, though. It’s too bad there isn’t an equivalent for vagina-less people, though, because kegels are a good exercise for men, too. Wait, now I’ve got an idea for a perineal clamp with a force sensor that records the tension in your taint, and works for all sexes. Call me, Gwyneth, I wanna get rich.


  1. Ragutis says

    I wanna get rich.

    You’re at a serious disadvantage, PZ. You have a predilection for truth, honesty and empiricism. Not that I think Ms. Paltrow is a swindler. I figure there’s a cloud of woo peddlers swarming like mosquitos around her seeing how much money they can suck out of yet another gullible celebrity.

    That said, I agree with you that this may be the first product she’s pushed that’s actually potentially somewhat useful.

  2. Saad says

    tension in your taint

    I get this every morning already after reading the headlines.

  3. robro says

    I am entertained by the idea of broadcasting from your vagina, though.

    Next up, can your Elvie Trainer be hacked? If it’s Bluetooth then probably so.

    I was surprised that activity monitoring on my “smart” watch does help me remember to stand, take walks, and even relax now and then. It’s also more convenient for some activities than pulling out a phone or a card. That said, I’m not sure it’s worth what it would cost to buy retail.

  4. blf says

    Remotely-controlled females. And I still haven’t understood the locally-autonomously-controlled ones yet.


    My first thought on seeing the OP was $cientology’$ e-meter$ are getting very weird… then I realised it’s too inexpen$ive for a $cientology $cam.

  5. zetopan says

    From that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia:
    “Inserting foreign objects into the vagina increases the risk of infections and can lead to vaginosis or toxic shock syndrome.”

  6. blf says

    I thought emf was ‘toxic.’ Why are they putting it inside themselves now?

    Woo-woo is not noted for its consistency. And anyways, it’s “toxic” only outside the skull, due to vibrations. Also quantum. Does not contain gluten or nuts. Not tested on animals. Batteries not included. Known side effects include a tendency to spend more and more money on ever-more ridiculous woo.

  7. zenlike says

    @eirchoug, 10:
    To be fair, it looks like the tube is a sort of “base station”, the thing to insert looks smaller and more comfortable (as far as something you shove into once body ever is).

  8. davidnangle says

    All I can think of is one of those videos on YT where a phone explodes right in someone’s pocket.

  9. busterggi says

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just use nuts? Start with peanuts, go to walnuts, then macadamia and finally coconuts.

    And they’re organic.

  10. davidnangle says

    busterggi @ #14. Surely, the progression would go the other way… right?

  11. ffakr says

    I’m surprised that this would work. Bluetooth is notoriously bad at transmitting through a human body, at least for time-sensitive data streams like audio.
    I have BT in-ear headphones designed for hearing protection. I use them to protect my hearing when using power tools.
    They constantly cut out if I’ve got my phone (source) in my pockets and I squat. Squatting places my torso between the headphones and the phone. The BT signal can’t maintain a link through my torso (I’m 5’10, 170lbs so there’s not THAT mass involved).
    I thought my headphones were failing when I first noticed this, but some research quickly revealed that this is a common complaint with BT headphones… the signal cutting out when there wasn’t a clear line of site between the phones and source.

    Unless this ships with panties that double as a CellPhone holder, it would seem there would always be an abdominal wall between this and your phone.
    Perhaps it transmits so little data, or the app can sufficiently buffer the transmitted data as it’s able to ‘trickle’ through that this isn’t a problem.
    Or, it’s a $200 piece of junk that probably won’t work unless you get awful creative with your under-garments.

  12. says

    What’s in the box, Gwyneth?

    I see what you did there.

    It’s too bad there isn’t an equivalent for vagina-less people, though, because kegels are a good exercise for men, too.

    Kegels done properly clench the rectum as well. No reason you couldn’t use the same device in both locations, though slipping a condom over it or being fastidious about cleaning it between uses is probably a good idea.

    “Inserting foreign objects into the vagina increases the risk of infections and can lead to vaginosis or toxic shock syndrome.”

    This is exactly why anyone with a vagina should decline to put someone else’s penis inside. Only ever put your own penis inside your own vagina, people.

  13. dontlikeusernames says

    mikem88 # 7

    I thought emf was ‘toxic.’

    No… they’re UNBELIEVABLE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ioT2WUbf_g

    (I had no idea what sort of formatting we get here, so I had to just leave a plain link. Would’a been better with the link text “UNBELIEVABLE”, but there you go. Cant’ always have everything in life.)

  14. unclefrogy says

    I had to look it up but that thing looks a lot like a sex ‘toy” now being marketed like the lovense lush
    I think though I have not taken one apart that the long skinny part goes out side which gives it a handle and a place for the antenna
    does it vibrate?
    uncle frogy

  15. Matrim says

    @17, ffakr

    Hmm…I’ve never had any problems with any of my BT devices. And I’m pretty sure they make BT enabled pacemakers to collect real time data these days, and I know they’ve been able to use BT to stream from visual cortical implant devices, so it’s obviously possible to transmit through the human body.

  16. chrislawson says


    Bluetooth pacemakers sit just under the skin — not much tissue to transmit through. This contraption is meant to sit deep inside the pelvis. To quote someone else answering a question about why a Bluetooth headset doesn’t work so well when the base phone is on the opposite side to the headset:

    Mate, the BT system works at 2.4Ghz, same as microwave ovens. This frequency is absorbed by water molecules…So, as your head is basically water, fats & sugars, it absorbs the radio waves, reducing reception.

  17. gijoel says

    I see a nice indented rim for bacteria, fungi and other nasties to hide in. Hopefully that’s not the end you insert, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  18. blf says

    gijoel@25, As other commentators have pointed out, the cylinder in the OP is not inserted at all. What is inserted is shown at the link in the OP, where it is described as “a small, smoothly shaped pod, that you slip in just as you would a tampon.” Judging by the pictures at the link, the cylinder is not much more than a storage container for the pod, USB cable, and so on. The cylinder may also be the recharging station for the (presumed) battery in the pod, which may explain the USB, assuming the USB actually has any purpose at all.

    The manufacturer’s site seems to confirm my guess: “During normal use the battery will last for several weeks. The carry case also doubles up as a charger, which means you can charge the kegel trainer discreetly and easily on the go.” I haven’t the faintest idea how carrying around a cylinder with a USB cable coming out of it and going, uh, where, is “discreet … on the go”.

    This bit is quite concerning:

    Is my workout data stored securely and kept confidential?
      When you use Elvie, it sends data from your workouts to your phone. That data is then sent encrypted (using TLS) and stored on our servers on encrypted disks (otherwise it would take up too much space on your phone). To ensure that workout data remains anonymous, we separate it from any personally identifiable data, such as your name and email address, and store it on different servers. We use anonymised data so we can see trends and meet the needs of our users by constantly updating and improving their Elvie experience. Creating an account and sending the data to the servers means that if you lose or upgrade your phone or tablet, you can take your workout history with you. It also lets you use Elvie with more than one phone or tablet. Some of our users prefer to log out after they’ve used Elvie so no one who accesses their phone or tablet can access their data.

    Note if you can see your own data, it’s not exactly “anonymised”. Their implication that it is, so when (not if) the data is stolen it can’t be traced back to the user, is nonsense. (Note they carefully say “We use anonymised data…” (my emphasis), which is perhaps true, but has ziltch to do with unauthorised access to any user’s data.)

  19. andyo says

    Re: Bluetooth, there are 3 power classes, so YMMV depending on which class your headphones/vagina device are using. Class 1 devices have been effectively measured to the full advertised 100m, so I think even if your body was in the way you’d get a strong signal. I’ve also read people complaining that their BT headsets just don’t work well if they’re not in line of sight, but more than the BT standard itself, I would guess is the crappy antennas of those products, especially now when everything has to be super-miniaturized.

  20. busterggi says

    davidnangle – Damned if I know but I sense a potential grant-funded study in this.

  21. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    I was wondering:
    Elvie = LV = Loose Vagina?

    Because if there’s one thing we know, it’s that muscles get weaker when one regularly stretches them and exerts force with them.

  22. blf says

    Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t want Condé Nast to fact-check Goop articles:

    [The plan was for] Gwyneth Paltrow’s partnership with Condé Nast […] was for the publisher to make a regular Goop magazine, but it all fell apart when Condé Nast wanted to fact-check Goop articles, according to an interview with Paltrow in the New York Times Magazine.

    Paltrow wanted to publish interviews with non-traditional healers and practitioners, as they do on the Goop website. She wasn’t especially concerned about checking whether what they said in their answers was medically correct or even scientifically possible. But Condé Nast insisted on claims being verified — when that became impossible, some health interviews were replaced with quickly pulled together travel pieces. The magazine closed after two issues and the partnership ended.

    I think for us it was really like we like to work where we are in an expansive space. Somewhere like Condé, understandably, there are a lot of rules, Paltrow told the Times, adding that they were a company that do things in a very old-school way.

    She argued that they were interviewing experts and didn’t need to check what they were saying was scientifically accurate. We’re never making statements, she said. Elise Loehnen, Goop’s head of content, added that Goop was just asking questions.


    Although Goop only published two physical magazines before severing ties with Condé Nast, Paltrow reveals that they have now hired an in-house fact checker for their website, which she describes as a necessary growing pain[]. However, she also says it can be useful when these kinds of controversies over Goop claims emerge. The Times article describes her telling a group of business students that cultural firestorms, such as the one about vagina steaming[], simply drive traffic to the site. I can monetize those eyeballs, she says.

    It’s now quite clear Ms Paltrow isn’t just delusional, but is an active danger. She has no concern at all for facts, evidence, or indeed anything but money — provided that money is in her pocket.

      † She’s correct that fact-checking is necessary, but the sheer contempt in which she obviously holds the concept and idea is why I set her bellowing in eejit quotes.

      ‡ This refers to the incident described in the article as:

    In one article, Goop infamously wrote about a procedure called the “Mugworth V-Steam”, in which people pay a practitioner to steam their vagina. The site claims: It is an energetic release — not just a steam douche — that balances female hormone levels. If you’re in LA, you have to do it, […]. The process has been widely criticised by gynaecologists, who say it could not only upset the natural pH balance of the vagina but also lead to dangerous burns.

    The cited link in the except, by Dr Jen Gunter (who else!?), Gwyneth Paltrow says steam your vagina, an OB/GYN says don’t, is well worth reading.