Vaginal dilators are medical devices used to treat a variety of conditions associated with pain during intercourse and anxiety surrounding vaginal penetration. If you are suffering from a pelvic floor disorder, a teenager nervous about intercourse, a new mother after a traumatic birth, a post-menopausal woman experiencing vaginal dryness, a recovering sexual abuse victim, or a cancer survivor, vaginal dilators could be helpful for you.
Read on to learn more about vaginal dilator uses, the different types, what conditions they help, and which vaginal dilator is the best on the market today.
Many women suffer from tight vaginal muscles for a variety of reasons, some resulting from severe anxiety at the thought of sex, inserting a tampon, or a gynecological exam. This type of anxiety can cause women to completely abstain from sex or often endure painful intercourse (dyspareunia).
In these cases, vaginal dilators are incredibly helpful.
Frequently used in conjunction with pelvic floor physiotherapy, vaginal dilators are recommended for use in the privacy of your own home to help relax and stretch tight vaginal muscles in preparation for more enjoyable sex. Made from either plastic or silicone, vaginal dilators typically come in ascending dimensions ranging from the size of a small finger to an erect penis. These gradually ascending sizes allow users to become comfortable with inserting a small size first and work up to the larger sizes with time.
Vaginal dilator uses include relaxing and stretching tight vaginal muscles, reducing anxiety and pain during intercourse, as well as helping women readjust to pleasurable vaginal penetration after surgery, childbirth, menopause, cancer treatment, or pelvic trauma.
As well as overcoming pelvic trauma due to an accident, vaginal dilators help to treat a variety of pelvic floor disorders and conditions that can cause fear of vaginal penetration or result in painful intercourse. These conditions include, but are not limited to:
Dyspareunia is the medical term for recurring pain in the genitals before, during, or after sexual intercourse. Experienced as pain in the vulva or internally in the uterus, vagina, or pelvis, dyspareunia can be caused by an underlying condition such as endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, injuries sustained during childbirth, uterine fibroids, or vaginitis.
Learning to use a vaginal dilator can help to relieve dyspareunia and treat underlying conditions, thereby allowing you to enjoy more pleasurable vaginal penetration.
A large percentage of women over the age of fifty experience vaginal dryness (vaginal atrophy) due to low estrogen levels during menopause. This dryness can lead to a narrowing of the vagina and a painful feeling upon penetration. Vaginal dilators are a great way to restore vaginal elasticity for post-menopausal women and relieve discomfort during sex.
Vaginismus refers to an involuntary spasming of the pelvic floor muscles and vaginal tissues at the thought of something entering the vagina, like a tampon, a gynecological instrument, or a penis. Due to the constriction of the vaginal entrance, vaginismus patients typically describe a burning sensation or the feeling of the penis hitting a barrier within the vagina during penetrative sex.
In conjunction with physical therapy, relaxation techniques, and sometimes sex therapy; vaginal dilators can help to relieve vaginismus by increasing blood flow to the vaginal tissues, relaxing tight muscles, and elevating natural lubrication to make vaginal penetration easier and more enjoyable.
A vaginal septum is a wall or partition of tissue that divides the vagina into two sections. Formed during fetal development, a vaginal septum can affect sexual function and pleasure, as well as menstruation and childbirth.
Surgery is often recommended to remove a vaginal septum and vaginal dilators are incredibly helpful post-surgery to relax the vaginal muscles, lower the risk of scar tissue or stenosis, and ease patients into becoming comfortable with penetration.
The hymen is a thin membrane at the opening of the vagina that is normally ‘opened’ during a young woman’s life through the use of a tampon, exercise, or sexual intercourse. An imperforate hymen, on the other hand, is when the hymen is uncharacteristically thick or is entirely obstructing the vaginal opening. In this case, a surgical procedure called a hymenectomy is performed to create an adequate opening.
Vaginal dilators are usually recommended as part of therapy after a hymenectomy to keep the hymen open during the healing process.
Following radiation treatment for the pelvic area or surgery for cervical cancer, vaginal tissues can become dry and lose their elasticity due to decreased blood flow in the area. The formation of scar tissue after radiation can also cause a narrowing of the vagina and result in pain during penetration, vaginal exams, or intercourse.
After pelvic radiation or cancer treatment, vaginal dilator therapy is a helpful practice to improve the elasticity of vaginal tissues and relax tight muscles. Some cancer survivors find vaginal dilators so helpful and soothing that they continue to use them for the rest of their life.
MRKH syndrome is a genetic disorder that results in an underdeveloped or absent vagina or uterus. Even though the external genitalia appear normal, women with MRKH syndrome typically do not experience menstruation or pregnancy due to the absence of a uterus, and sex or vaginal penetration can be particularly painful.
MRKH syndrome is sometimes treated with a surgical procedure called sigmoid colovaginoplasty which allows patients to enjoy satisfactory sex. Non-surgical treatments involve using vaginal dilator therapy to gradually and slowly deepen the vaginal canal to form what is called a neo-vagina.
If you are experiencing symptoms of any of the above-mentioned conditions, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your healthcare practitioner to determine if vaginal dilator therapy can help you.
There are several types and brands of vaginal dilators on the market, all of which are made from either plastic or silicone. Plastic dilators tend to be firm and inflexible, whereas silicone dilators are softer with a more flexible and human-like feel.
Many dilators come in sets of ascending sizes, allowing users to choose which size is most appealing for them to start with. While other dilators are sold individually, and seem cheaper to begin with but can work out more costly in the long term.
Another difference is whether dilators come with a handle or a lip. A handle can mean easier use for some users, while others prefer to relax without having to hold the dilator. In this case, the lip incorporated at the end of many dilators means users know when the dilator is fully inserted and can lie back and relax without having to hold it in place.
Because it is understandably nerve-wracking for women suffering from dyspareunia to insert anything into their vagina, it is advisable to engage the help of a pelvic floor physiotherapist before you start using a vaginal dilator.
Customers, pelvic floor physiotherapists, and female health experts have described Intimate Rose Vaginal Dilators as the best vaginal dilators on the market today. In addition, Intimate Rose Vaginal Dilators are not only recommended by the American Physical Therapy Association but also used by the official Academy of Pelvic Health for training purposes.
Designed by Amanda Olson, a physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic health, the Intimate Rose Vaginal Dilators are made from medical-grade silicone, are BPA-free, and come in a set of 8 ascending sizes. They are also available in a smaller set of 4 ascending sizes, or for the budget-friendly shopper, they can be bought individually to add more sizes as you progress through your therapy.
When it comes to size, Intimate Rose dilators start at 0.45 inches in diameter and 2.8 inches long, increasing incrementally to 1.5 inches in diameter and 6.5 inches long.
Customers also mention that Intimate Rose Vaginal Dilators are firm enough to hold their shape, yet are velvety smooth to touch and have a more ‘life-like’ feel than dilators made of plastic or even other silicone dilators that have a stickier finish.
Despite being the best vaginal dilators on the market, Intimate Rose dilators are cheaper than other silicone dilators, costing just $189.99 for a full set of 8 dilators.
Vaginal dilators are used to relax vaginal muscles after pelvic trauma, gently stretch tight vaginal muscles for more pleasurable sex, as well as keep the vagina open and free of scar tissue after surgical procedures or radiation therapy. The extent and duration of vaginal dilator therapy will vary according to each individual and the underlying condition causing their vaginal tightness.
If you can relate to any of the conditions discussed above, you don’t have to continue living with the pain. Contact a pelvic floor physiotherapist in your area about the possibility of vaginal dilator therapy today.
Mayo Clinic – Dysapeurnia - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/painful-intercourse/symptoms-causes/syc-20375967
My Health Alberta – Female Sexuality & Cancer: Vaginal Dilators https://myhealth.alberta.ca/cancer-and-sexuality/female-sexuality-and-cancer/vaginal-tightness/vaginal-dilators
Cleveland Clinic - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15723-vaginismus
National Library of Medicine - Management of Recurrent Stricture Formation after Transverse Vaginal Septum Excision - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4442265/
National Library of Medicine - Dilator Use following Vaginal Brachytherapy for Endometrial Cancer: A Randomized Feasibility and Adherence Study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650953/