Although most dilators are made from plastic or silicone, not all dilators work in the same way or provide the same results. Hard plastic dilators hold their shape, for instance, but are not as comfortable as the softer silicone versions, and magnetic dilators are based on the theory that by increasing blood flow they reduce pain faster.
In this article, we’ll discuss magnetic dilators; do they work, how they compare to their non-magnetic counterparts, and how to know if the dilators you choose are right for you.
Vaginal dilators are tube-shaped medical devices designed to relax tight vaginal muscles and relieve fear or pain associated with sexual intercourse, tampon insertion, or pelvic exams. Often used in conjunction with physiotherapy and rehabilitation, vaginal dilators are regularly prescribed for those recovering from pelvic injuries, pelvic disorders, and cancer treatment.
Magnetic dilators are made from hard plastic with neodymium magnets inserted within the frame of the dilator. Based on the theory that the human body exists within a magnetic field, magnetic dilators are used to heal the body by increasing blood flow to the painful area and rebalancing its magnetic energy.
While magnetic-based therapy has been known to help reduce pain in other parts of the body, research supporting magnetic therapy for vaginal dilation is scarce. Studies that do exist have shown mixed results, implying that magnets, especially neodymium magnets, can harm various body systems, as well as negatively affect tissues and organs. (Croat 2018)
When it comes to using magnetic dilators, manufacturers stipulate that they should not be used by women who have a defibrillator, pacemaker, or any other electrical medical device in the body. It is also recommended that women trying to conceive or are already pregnant should use non-magnetic dilators as opposed to magnetic dilators.
Many dilators sets come in a set of 6-8. Magnetic dilators sets are commonly found with this sizing.
Choosing the right size dilator will depend on your reason for dilating in the first place. For most women seeking to reduce pain during vaginal penetration a complete set of dilators is prescribed to gently stretch the vaginal muscles in order to achieve the goal of a wider vaginal canal. However, it can also be the case that some women do not need a full set to dilate sufficiently.
If you find it painful to insert a tampon or have a pelvic exam, for instance, starting with size 1 and working up through a full set of dilators is recommended.
If you can insert a tampon with ease, but vaginal dryness or tightness is an issue when it comes to enjoying intercourse, you might be advised to start with a size 3 or 4.
For those who are sexually active but seeking to reduce pain during penetration, smaller sizes might not be required. In this case, patients might start with a size 4 or 5 and slowly progress to larger sizes until a dilator the size of their partner’s penis feels comfortable, and even pleasurable, to insert.
For guidance on achieving the best results with vaginal dilator therapy, it is always best to consult with a pelvic floor physiotherapist or gynecologist to determine the best starting size for you. If you are going it alone, it is helpful to understand that although dilators can cause pain when first inserted, the pain should subside to mild discomfort within a few minutes. If it doesn’t, you might want to drop down a size in dilators.
Even though magnetic-based therapy has been acknowledged for reducing pain in other parts of the body, evidence supporting magnetic therapy for vaginal dilation is limited and shows mixed results. It is also evident that most women suffering from pelvic disorders or vaginal pain are more inclined to seek the softer and more comfortable healing process associated with non-magnetic silicone dilators as opposed to the rigid plastic of magnetic dilators.
If you can relate to any of the symptoms mentioned above, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to determine if vaginal dilators can help your condition.
Croat, J. J. (1997). Current status and future outlook for bonded neodymium permanent magnets. Journal of applied physics, 81(8), 4804-4809.
National Library of Medicine - The use of neodymium magnets in healthcare and their effects on health- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6323575/