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Vaginal stenosis

Written by Emma McGeorge

Suffering from vaginal stenosis and looking for ways to relieve the symptoms? Look no further.

Vaginal stenosis is defined as a narrowing and shortening of the vagina. Vaginal stenosis can cause the vagina to become less flexible, drier and more fragile, which can result in dyspareunia (painful sex) and discomfort during pelvic exams. Vaginal stenosis can be the result of chemotherapy or radiation therapy side effects in the pelvis or surgery around the pelvic area, which is called radiation-induced vaginal stenosis to differentiate it from other types of vaginal stenosis. It can also be made worse by chemotherapy.

What Can I Do to Manage Vaginal Stenosis?

Vaginal stenosis can be a painful and disheartening condition, especially when it causes issues with vaginal health. Vaginal stenosis can especially impact your sexual health, making sexual intercourse difficult. It’s hard to enjoy sexual intercourse when vaginal penetration is too painful to tolerate - and it certainly interferes with your sexual health!

Thankfully, there are ways to manage the condition so that you can indeed enjoy sexual intercourse once more. There are a few ways you can soothe the vaginal tissue and reduce the side effects associated with vaginal stenosis, whether it’s caused by pelvic radiation therapy or if it’s from another source, such as a congenital one. Women with a condition such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, for example, often encounter issues with their sexual organs, and this can include symptoms similar to vaginal stenosis.

Luckily, no matter what the cause, there are proven methods for treating the condition. Here’s what you need to know about how you can support healthier vaginal tissue in order to restore sexual function and enjoy sexual activity free of pain and discomfort.

1. Vaginal Dilation Therapy

Vaginal dilation therapy is a fantastic option for preventing and treating vaginal stenosis. Vaginal dilation therapy aims to gently stretch the vaginal walls over an extended period of time, usually weeks or even months, using methods that make use of therapeutic devices specifically for that purpose.

Vaginal dilation therapy involves the use of specialized vaginal dilators, which are tube-shaped devices designed to penetrate and slowly widen the vagina with a minimum of discomfort. Starting with a small, tampon-sized dilator and moving up to larger sizes of vaginal dilators, the idea is to steadily become more comfortable with penetration and help keep the vagina open.

Vaginal dilators can also be used with a natural lubricant to make the penetration process even smoother, something that is highly recommended for any woman - vaginal lubrication helps the process of inserting a vaginal dilator as smooth and painless as possible. However, be aware that you will need to match the type of lubricant to the type of dilator you’re using. Some dilators made of silicone, for example, can degrade if used with silicone-based lubricants; in this case it’s highly recommended to use a water-based lubricant instead.

We love Intimate Rose’s silicone dilators, which can be purchased individually or as part of a set with several different sizes. Silicone is a soft material that resembles the feeling of human skin, which can increase comfort while performing vaginal dilation therapy. And Intimate Rose’s Silicone Vaginal Dilators were designed by a pelvic floor health physical therapist and are made from a smooth, body safe, medical grade silicone that's 100% BPA free and designed to glide into the vagina for more comfortable use during dilator therapy.

2. Increase moisture

Vaginal stenosis often results in increased dryness in the vagina, so using a dedicated vaginal moisturizer could help to increase hydration. These products are different from lubricants, as a lubricant is formulated for short-term use such as during sexual activity - they typically aren’t the best choice for long-term hydration and moisturisation. 

Instead, be sure to make sure to use a natural, pH-balanced moisturizer, as your vagina is a very sensitive area that deserves the best. We’re big fans of this all natural vaginal moisturizer from Intimate Rose, which offers a unique blend of organic and natural ingredients to relieve and treat vaginal skin irritation, redness and dryness.

Estrogen is also quite important for tissue health and is one of the best treatments for dryness and vaginal stenosis. There are estrogen therapies that you can undergo, such as hormone replacement therapies; these may be needed in the wake of radiation therapy, for example, or if you have hormonal imbalances that need to be corrected otherwise. However, this isn’t a decision you should make on your own - instead, you’ll need to talk to your doctor or licensed physician about whether estrogen is appropriate for you.

3. Relieve pain

 If you’ve experienced any pain during attempted penetration, using a heat pack can reduce discomfort. Our TendHer reusable feminine cooling pad is a fantastic gel pack that can be used hot or cold and tucked in your underwear for direct contact. Cooling pads can help reduce swelling and inflammation, while heating pads are excellent for soothing sore muscles - and if you’re suffering from vaginal stenosis, you may need use of both types of pain relief.

Depending on what other reproductive issues you may be facing, there are other ways to treat vaginal pain. Physical therapy can be useful in some cases, especially through the use of a uniquely pelvic wand to internally massage tender or stressed pelvic floor muscles that might be clenching too tight - and this can make penetration painful as well. There are a variety of uniquely patented pelvic wands we like from Intimate Rose’s line, including their original wand, vibrating wand, and temperature therapy wand. 

However, you will likely need to combine the use of such physical therapy with vaginal dilators as well if you have severe vaginal stenosis, such as the kind caused by radiation therapy, as dilator use may be needed to restore enough elasticity to allow a pelvic wand to be useful.

Symptom Relief Is Never Far Away

No matter what types of symptoms you’re suffering from, you don’t have to go through it alone. Talk to your healthcare provider about what they feel would be best to help you to manage your vaginal stenosis so you can live a happier, healthier, more sexually active life without pain or discomfort.