First of all, I have Vulvodynia and I came across vaginal dilators during my own research. I was thinking, “How could something so simple help?”, especially after I had been going to the doctor for over four years with no help.
What I can tell you is that they changed my life: virtually no side effects and very safe. You have to stick with them though; the longer you use them, sex becomes easier and less painful in most cases. What is sad is that a lot of doctors don’t recommend them. Something so safe and affordable that can change your life.
What are vaginal dilators?
According to ISSM, which is the International Society of Sexual Medicine, Vaginal dilators are tube-shaped devices designed to stretch the vagina. Often made of plastic, dilators come in various sizes. A small dilator might be the size of a tampon. A large one might be the size of an average penis.
Dilators are used for a variety of conditions. For example, radiation treatment for gynecological cancer damage the vaginal lining and make the vagina narrower and less flexible. For some women, dilation can minimize these effects and help the vagina heal.
Women with vaginismus might also use dilators. Vaginismus is a condition in which the muscles of the vagina spasm at the start of penetration, making penetration difficult or impossible. A woman with vaginismus cannot control these spasms. Dilation therapy can help women relax the vagina and grow accustomed to the feeling of penetration.
Young women with vaginal agenesis, who have been born without a fully-developed vagina, may use dilators to create a “neovagina.” In other words, dilation therapy can help them create a vagina on their own.
If you suffer from vaginal atrophy due to menopause, vaginal dilators are a safe and effective way to combat atrophy.
Dilators may be obtained by prescription or purchased over-the-counter. A medical professional can teach women how to use them and tailor therapy to their personal situation.
How much do vaginal dilators cost?
Vaginal dilators come in all shapes, sizes and cost. You can search vaginal dilators on Amazon.com and see price ranges. Factors that effect cost can be size and material. Medical grade smooth plastic vaginal dilators are going to cost less than silicone. Magnetic vaginal dilators have been clinically proven to help reduce the number of pain locations in pelvic pain patients. You can buy magnetic vaginal dilators in single, combo or a full set of five. Prices for magnetic vaginal dilators start at $29.00.
VuVatech.com has a set of five medical grade plastic dilators for $49.00 on their site. They usually have a discount code as well.
How do I use vaginal dilators? Or how do I stretch the vagina?
So we recommend that you visit a medical professional before vaginal dilator therapy. The problem is, many of them can’t even diagnose your condition properly. So what we REALLY recommend is you visiting a pelvic floor physical therapist. They usually know more about pelvic pain conditions that cause painful intercourse than doctors. Doctors can mask the pain, but pelvic floor physical therapy can help stop the pain. Here is link to find a APTA certified pelvic floor physical therapist in your area.
Here is a set of directions that is safe to start with. If you cannot do the full 20 minutes that is ok, one minute a day to start is better than nothing.
Try to use your dilators 1-2 times a day
Directions Before Use:
Wash dilators with a mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Let the dilators air dry.
Start by testing the smaller size vaginal dilators to see which size you are comfortable inserting. You may find that when you are first starting to use dilators, you can only tolerate the tip and that is normal. Increase dilator size only after you can insert current size dilator with ease.
- Lubricate the vaginal dilator and vagina opening generously with a lubricant your choice. IMPORTANT: Do not use petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline).
- In a private place, preferably a bed, lie on your back or in the foetal position. Bend both knees and spread your legs apart. Taking calm breaths, relax your body. Using gentle pressure, insert the smaller round end of the dilator into your vagina. Make sure that the dilator shaft is inserted as deeply as is comfortable for you. Do not insert entire dilator: leave larger, round flat end outside of vaginal opening.
Important: Lie down on your back or side. Do not walk around with a vaginal dilator in, this can be very dangerous and can injure you.
- Remain lying on your back while the vaginal dilator is in place. Leave it in for 20-30 minutes (the longer the better) before taking it out. You may have to hold dilator in place, as your vaginal muscles may try to push it out. If you cannot leave it in the full time, that is ok. Don’t be worried. You will get there.
- When you can insert smaller dilator with ease, you may progress up to the next size within the same session. Your muscles should be relaxed. Moving to the next size vaginal dilator should then be easier. Note: progressing up in size may take days or weeks to complete comfortably, it depends on the severity of your pelvic pain condition.
- Wash the vaginal dilators after use with mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Let the vaginal dilators air dry. If you use a towel, the detergent on the towel could irritate you.
Do you need to use a vaginal dilator?
According to ACOG, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3 out of 4 women with experience painful intercourse at some point in their lives.
Here is a list of conditions that may warrant the use of vaginal dilators.