Plastic Dilators: FAQs, Uses and More

Pelvic pain
Plastic Dilators for Vaginismus

Just as the shape and feel of a human body will differ from person to person, so too will vaginas. So when it comes to using vaginal dilators, plastic dilators might feel better for one vagina, while silicone dilators might feel better for another. In this article, we’ll explore that theory by delving into and explaining the differences between plastic dilators and silicone dilators.  

Vaginal Dilators Explained

Vaginal dilators are tube-shaped medical devices designed to relieve vaginal tightness or vaginal pain by gently stretching the vaginal tissues and pelvic muscles. Made from either plastic or silicone, vaginal dilators are typically sold in sets of varying sizes to allow for gradual relaxation and gentle stretching of the muscles over time, but they are also sold individually.  

Many women are advised to use vaginal dilators to stretch and open the vagina after menopause, cancer treatments, or pelvic surgery. They are also recommended to treat a variety of pelvic floor disorders and to relieve dyspareunia (pain during sex). 


Are Plastic Dilators Safe? 

The answer is yes. But it is important to verify that the brand you are using utilizes medical grade materials and is FDA compliant. 

See our picks for the best vaginal dilators

Are Plastic Dilators & Silicone Dilators Used for Different Reasons? 

No, plastic dilators and silicone dilators are used for the same purpose – to relax tight vaginal muscles and reduce pain, fear, or discomfort before, during, or after vaginal penetration. 

Whether you’re seeking comfort while inserting a tampon as a teenager, more confidence during your first sexual experience, returning to sex after menopause, recovering from a pelvic injury, hysterectomy, or surgery for vaginal septum or imperforate hymen - vaginal dilators can help.

How Do Vaginal Dilators Help? 

Plastic dilators and silicone dilators can help vaginas of all ages in several ways, including:

  • Reducing the fear of penetration by training the vaginal muscles (and the mind) to relax at the thought of something entering the vagina 
  • Alleviating involuntary muscle spasms or pain during sex
  • Treating atrophy by increasing blood flow and natural lubrication after menopause  
  • Stretching and re-widening the vaginal canal after pelvic surgery, injuries, or a hysterectomy
  • Preventing scar tissue or painful adhesions after radiation treatment
  • Maintaining and improving vaginal elasticity during or after long periods without intercourse

Are Plastic Dilators Better Than Silicone Dilators?

Gynecologists and female health experts have been prescribing vaginal dilators to help with female health and pelvic disorders for over 80 years. The first commercially produced dilators were made from plastic and many women still prefer plastic dilators for their lower price and rigid firmness. However, the more modern silicone dilators offer several additional benefits. 

The Benefits of Silicone Dilators Over Plastic Dilators

Firm v’s Soft

Although some women prefer the rigid form of plastic dilators, the softer (yet still firm) silicone dilators do just as good a job. Stretching any part of the body is a gradual process but especially within the tender realm of a tight vagina. And when working on alleviating pain, tightness, or fear of penetration - it is the slow, gentle and flexible process that matters, not necessarily the firmness. 

The Feel 

Silicone dilators feel more natural, flexible, and life-like within the vagina than hard and inflexible plastic dilators. The feel of silicone also closely resembles the feel of human body tissue, which makes women feel more comfortable about using dilators and better prepared for the feeling of a real penis in the vagina.     

Cold & Heat Therapy

Both plastic dilators and silicone dilators can be used for cold and heat therapy, which helps enormously to soothe the vagina. Each can be chilled in the fridge for cold relief or heated in warm water for some soothing heat therapy. However, silicone provides superior temperature control to plastic and the softer, more natural feel of silicone dilators just feels better in the vagina when chilled or heated than hard plastic. 

Less Risk of Bruising & Irritation

The softer firmness of silicone dilators results in very little bruising or irritation in comparison to the more hard and rigid plastic dilators.  


Medical grade silicone is considered highly durable and will last a lot longer than its plastic counterpart. Just be careful to use only water-based lubricant on silicone dilators as other types can damage the silicone. Cleaning-wise, silicone dilators are also easy to clean with warm water and soap. 


Vaginal dilators, whether plastic or silicone, are all designed for one purpose; to relax and stretch tight vaginal muscles in order to reduce pain, fear, or discomfort before, during, or after vaginal penetration. While plastic dilators offer a firm rigidity, silicone dilators are softer, more life-like, and extra flexible for a gentler stretch of the vaginal muscles over time.

If you are trying to decide between plastic dilators and silicone dilators, have a read above and decide which sounds like a better fit for you.    


Science Direct – Vaginal Dilators -

Obstetrics & Gynaecology - Creation and maintenance of neo-vagina with the use of vaginal dilators as first line treatment

Mayo Clinic – Dysapeurnia -

National Library of Medicine - Vaginal Dilator Therapy for Women Receiving Pelvic Radiotherapy -